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Time Out: Milan

Atlantaide Phototravel / Corbis

Photo by Atlantaide Phototravel / Corbis

The Tree of Life in Lake Arena at Expo Milano 2015.

Spruced up for the World Expo, Milan has never looked better. Shedding its strictly business reputation, the city is rolling out the red carpet for millions of visitors headed to the Expo, which ends October 31. The spotlight is now focused on the Expo site, about eight miles northwest of the city center, where dozens of show-stopping pavilions explore the foodcentric theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” But dozens of urban renewal projects have revitalized every corner of the city, from the Navigli neighborhood with its cleaned-up canals to industrial Porta Romana, now a cultural hot spot. Fashionable as ever, Milan is ready to impress.

Pick up hazelnut cream-filled pastries at Pavè, an artisanal bakery and café. Shop for community-grown produce from the Lombardy region at Cascina Cuccagna, an old farmhouse that hosts twice-weekly markets. The farmhouse restaurant, Un Posto a Milano, offers handmade pastas with seasonal fillings at tables overlooking herb gardens. For something sweet, La Gelateria della Musica scoops sublime salted caramel and peanut gelato.

In a city famous for its aperitivo scene, no bar does it better than Ceresio 7, which serves creative cocktails and gourmet snacks beside a glamorous rooftop pool. Bar Basso claims to have invented the prosecco-based negroni sbagliato, today served in giant goblets. The buzzing Navigli district is ideal for a bar crawl, which should include a spritz at the chic hideaway Rita.

With its vaulted glass-roof arcades, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is among the world’s oldest—and most beautiful—malls. But the area’s best shopping is at nearby Excelsior Milano, a seven-story concept store with two specialty floors curated by Antonia, an innovative boutique adored by fashionable Milanese. For interior inspiration, Fragile is a contemporary design gallery with whimsical rooms as eye-catching as the items exhibited inside.

The recently opened, Rem Koolhaas-designed Fondazione Prada showcases large-scale works from contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst and Robert Gober. The venue’s café, Bar Luce, sprang from the imagination of film director Wes Anderson. Across town at HangarBicocca, a factory is now a cavernous gallery housing Anselm Kiefer’s monumental work “The Seven Heavenly Palaces.”

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