World

Milan grows in altitude for Expo world's fair, and city leaders hope also in stature

  • In this photo taken on Friday, May 30, 2014, a boy takes a jump as he performs on a skateboard in Milan, Italy. Milan has been growing in altitude in preparation for Expo 2015 world’s fair opening next Friday, May 1, 2015 with the construction of a dozen new skyscrapers in recent years that have permanently altered the skyline. City leaders hope a successful world’s fair, expected to attract 20 million visitors from across the globe over the six-month run, will help Italy’s fashion and banking capital grow in international stature, as well. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

    In this photo taken on Friday, May 30, 2014, a boy takes a jump as he performs on a skateboard in Milan, Italy. Milan has been growing in altitude in preparation for Expo 2015 world’s fair opening next Friday, May 1, 2015 with the construction of a dozen new skyscrapers in recent years that have permanently altered the skyline. City leaders hope a successful world’s fair, expected to attract 20 million visitors from across the globe over the six-month run, will help Italy’s fashion and banking capital grow in international stature, as well. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, April 7, 2015 file photo, a partial view of the new Porta Nuova business district, including the Unicredit bank tower, top center, in Milan, Italy. Milan has been growing in altitude in preparation for Expo 2015 world’s fair opening next Friday, May 1, 2015 with the construction of a dozen new skyscrapers in recent years that have permanently altered the skyline. City leaders hope a successful world’s fair, expected to attract 20 million visitors from across the globe over the six-month run, will help Italy’s fashion and banking capital grow in international stature, as well. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

    FILE - In this Tuesday, April 7, 2015 file photo, a partial view of the new Porta Nuova business district, including the Unicredit bank tower, top center, in Milan, Italy. Milan has been growing in altitude in preparation for Expo 2015 world’s fair opening next Friday, May 1, 2015 with the construction of a dozen new skyscrapers in recent years that have permanently altered the skyline. City leaders hope a successful world’s fair, expected to attract 20 million visitors from across the globe over the six-month run, will help Italy’s fashion and banking capital grow in international stature, as well. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 file photo, a just married Chinese couple pose for pictures on a bridge leading to the Porta Nuova business district in Milan, Italy. Milan has been growing in altitude in preparation for Expo 2015 world’s fair opening next Friday, May 1, 2015 with the construction of a dozen new skyscrapers in recent years that have permanently altered the skyline. City leaders hope a successful world’s fair, expected to attract 20 million visitors from across the globe over the six-month run, will help Italy’s fashion and banking capital grow in international stature, as well. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 file photo, a just married Chinese couple pose for pictures on a bridge leading to the Porta Nuova business district in Milan, Italy. Milan has been growing in altitude in preparation for Expo 2015 world’s fair opening next Friday, May 1, 2015 with the construction of a dozen new skyscrapers in recent years that have permanently altered the skyline. City leaders hope a successful world’s fair, expected to attract 20 million visitors from across the globe over the six-month run, will help Italy’s fashion and banking capital grow in international stature, as well. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)  (The Associated Press)

Milan has been growing in altitude in preparation for Expo 2015 world's fair opening next Friday with the construction of a dozen new skyscrapers in recent years.

City leaders hope a successful world's fair, expected to attract 20 million visitors over the six-month run, will help Italy's fashion and banking capital grow in international stature as well. The most optimistic see the event as a stimulus to help boost Italy out of economic doldrums.

The city in recent months has been emerging from a cocoon of scaffolding and construction barriers, revealing an upgraded and modernized profile. Besides the new skyline — dwarfing the spires of the Duomo cathedral, the city's most iconic symbol and once its highest point — the famed canals have been spiffed up with a new waterfront, more bike paths have been built and the grandiose Fascist-era train station has been renovated with shops and restaurants.

Even the city's famed coffee bars have shed their stuffy last-century decor in favor of a more sleek, modernistic atmosphere. They've also turned their emphasis from a morning coffee and brioche to the evening Apertivo, the Milan happy hour during which for the price of a drink customers enjoy a bar-full of complimentary hors d'oeuvres, a meal in their own right.

The epicenter of Milan's urban redevelopment is the Porta Nuova business district, a vast swath of new retail, office and residential space, most reaching upward, that also features a pedestrian zone, bike paths and a large public park. A scant 1.5 kilometers (mile) from the Gothic-style Duomo, it represents a leap into the future for Milan.