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Milan's central square gets green, edible Expo makeover

Landmark sustainability report issued

03 January, 10:51
Milan's central square gets green, edible Expo makeover (By Emily Backus).

(ANSA) - Milan, January 3 - Milan's majestic stone-paved central square will be getting a green, edible makeover in time to coincide with food-themed Expo 2015, the city announced last weekend. The winning entry of an open contest to re-landscape the Piazza del Duomo envisions wooding its sides with native trees and planting its centre with multi-tiered gardens of wheat, oats, rye, barley and aromatic herbs - in keeping with Expo 2015's theme of "Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life".

Plantings are to begin in the next few weeks with an eye on yielding fresh botanical splendour to the barren square in time for the Universal Exposition, which runs May to October of next year.

The Piazza del Duomo is a place where the city's symbol - its ivory spired gothic cathedral - and monumental buildings preside over a vast open space in the dead centre of the city's target-shaped heart. It has remained much the same since a major revamping in the late 1800's, designed by architect Giuseppe Mengoni, ushered in an era that celebrated united Italy's new monarchy. With its victory arch, stately arcades and statue of Italy's first king, the square looks befitting of pageantry or the thump of soldiers boots, built to endure the crisscrossing footfall of millions of visitors each year - and 80,000 people gathered there without mishap Tuesday night for a public New Year's Eve party co-sponsored by Expo 2015. The winning entry for planting the square was submitted by a consortium of a nursery in Carugate in Milan's periphery, a photography studio and an Milanese architectural firm. Chiara Bisconti, Milan's councillor for public greenery said the project's landscaping approach is novel, fitting and sustainable.

"(The plants) are no longer only ornamental, but tied to the history of the territory, to the species present in our countryside," Bisconti said.

Bisconti added that the project will be carried out and maintained for three years by a private sponsor and thus comes at no cost to public coffers.

Environmental and economic sustainability were also at the heart of a report published Monday on the Milan Expo 2015 website.

The 2013 Sustainability Report marks the first such document ever for a Universal Exposition, and fulfills a promise made in Milan's original, winning proposal to host the big event.

"As Italians, it is the second time that we raise the bar and represent a benchmark on an international level for major events. In fact, the 2006 winter Olymipic games in Turin were the first Olympics to adopt an environmental management system and to publish a sustainability report," Expo 2015 wrote on its website. The sustainability report for Expo 2015 explains all the actions taken and results achieved from 2009 through early 2013 to aim resources toward environmental, economic and social benefits and to engage Expo's various stakeholders.

The report will be updated again next year to coincide with the world fair.

Expo 2015 said it wants to set an example for the future.

"Through this experience, Expo 2015 aims to promote the spread of sustainability reporting for major events," the Expo site read.