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By Emily Backus

14 marzo, 15:34
ITALIAN MAN LAUNCHES 10,000 KM EXPO-THEMED EXPEDITION (ANSA) - Milan, March 14 - An Italian man says that on Saturday he will launch a year-long, 10,000 kilometer journey that will end at the official opening of Milan Expo 2015.

Francesco Magistrali, 35, begins his odyssey in South America and during his travels by bike and canoe, he says he will explore relationships between food, environment, culture, and lifestyle between different people.

His "Esmeranda Expedition" ties in nicely with the theme of Milan Expo, "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life".

Magistrali will document his discoveries with the support of the Università Cattolica of Milan. "I have been preparing myself for this unprecedented adventure for four years," Magistrali told ANSA. "It is not a year of sabbatical taken to avoid working, but an real entrepreneurial project," he added.

Magistrali has worked for years with an American travel company specializing in extreme trips. In addition to being sponsored by various technical brands and local companies, the Università Cattolica of Milan - where he graduated in 2005 with a degree in physical education and sports science - appointed him its special envoy for the organization's ExpoLab.

The ExpoLab is the university's laboratory, conceived concurrently with Milan Expo 2015, in which texts, images and videos taken by Magistrali will be collected. A future book and possible DVD are in the works. Magistrali said his trajectory will take him from South America's Terra del Fuoco across the Andes by bicycle for 5,000 kilometres, passing through Patagonia; "then, still alone, I will plunge into Amazonia, where I hope to be able to enter into contact with the last tribes that live in off-limit zones".

This week, Italian Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Mario Giro said Milan Expo was considered by Argentina to be "an event of national strategic nature" after a meeting with the Argentinian foreign ministry in Buenos Aires. Giro told ANSA he had been told that a decree stating Expo's importance to the South American country would be signed soon by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Giro met with Argentinian Deputy Foreign Minister Eduardo Zuain and undersecretary for international economic relationships Carlos Bianco.

The Argentinian government assured Giro that it is working "quickly" on the Argentinian pavillion for the world fair, and that thus Expo is "considered of strategic importance". The Italian diplomat added that an Argentinian-Italian joint venture was underway to "work together" on Milan 2015. The world fair will tackle issues such as food security, hunger, and promote environmentally, socially, economically sustainable global food production practices.

A total of 144 countries so far are participating in the universal exposition, which takes place next year from May 31 to October 31 in an area of more than 100 hectares near Milan's massive Rho Pero trade fair exhibition centre.