18/10/17 .

Benvenuti a Milano!

Year 10 and 11 Cultural Long Expedition

On October 12th, Year 10 and Year 11 travelled to Milan for the year’s Cultural Long Expedition. This year the students had the chance to navigate through one of Europe’s cosmopolitan and economic hubs, enhancing their life skills, broadening their cultural knowledge and of course, learning about Italian cuisine. Visiting a new city, in a foreign country, certainly inspired their curiosity and their ability to adapt and communicate within different and unusual settings. As we explored the piazzas and historic sites of Milan, meeting new people and learning about new cultures, the students proved to be trustworthy and responsible, thus making their teachers particularly proud of them.

On Thursday morning, we boarded the train in Sierre and at midday we were already enjoying our first Italian pizza! At Milan’s impressive Stazione Centrale, we visited Binario 21, a Holocaust Memorial. Between 1943 and 1945, platform 21 was the starting point for hundreds of deportees, transported on cattle wagons and headed to concentration camps. The area below the railway tracks is now a place for reflection, study and research open to the community.

Music was our way of getting back to life’s wonders. We visited Milan’s world famous Teatro alla Scala. In the theatre’s museum, we saw instruments from some of history’s most famous classical musicians and composers, as well as costumes used by the singers in operas. We peered into the theatre and the stage, with its red velvet seats and incredible acoustics, we watched an orchestra as it got ready for its next performance. 

A visit to Milan without a shopping spree is not complete, so our students were left free to explore the Corso Buenos Aires and its many shops. For dinner, we had typical Milanese fare: risotto giallo e cotoletta, followed by a well-deserved tiramisu!

On Friday, we set out for a morning dedicated to science. We arrived at the Leonardo da Vinci National Science and Technology Museum. The visit started out with a tinkering workshop, where the students (and the teachers!) experimented with renewable energy sources and even pumped water into a model hydroelectric dam. Next, we walked through the museum galleries to look at the inventions of famous Italian scientists like Guglielmo Marconi, stepped into a real life steam powered locomotive and marveled at the Enrico Toti, an Italian submarine from 1925.

After lunch, it was time for some history. We headed to the Castello Sforzesco, the stronghold of the powerful Milanese Sforza family in the 1300s. This castle is one of the biggest in Europe and we walked through its walls as our tour guide told us about life in the castle. Next, we went to the Duomo of Milan, where we learnt about the symbol of Milan, the “Madonnina”, a gold plated statue of St. Mary on top of the marble cathedral. After a short history lesson on how the cathedral was built, students were given the option to explore inside the Duomo and take in its spectacular stained glass windows. It was a long day of learning, so the students were rewarded with some more free time, as they perused the shops of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Manzoni.

On Saturday, we appreciated Milan’s modern architecture, starting off with Piazza Gae Aulenti, which won awards for its green and sustainable approach to city design. We then had a look at the Bosco Verticale, or Vertical Forest, skyscrapers that incorporate a living forest into their walls, designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri.

After a stroll through the picturesque Corso Como, we arrived at Eataly, the famous food hub. Here, the students learnt about Slow Food, and the importance of preserving quality and biodiversity in our food. We then set off on a delicious and informative tasting course. We watched how mozzarella was made, tasted freshly baked bread and artisanal ice cream. After lunch and a chance to stock up on Italian food, we set off to learn about one of Milan’s most important aspects: the fashion industry.

Our tour guide told us a little about Italian fashion brands and fashion design schools in Milan and we went to visit the workshop and office of a silk tie and scarf vendor: Nick Bronson. Here the students saw the production process of a small business in the fashion industry – from factory to client. They even had a small style competition! After this it was time to get back on the train, with a full stomach and a rich cultural experience to look back on.