The project

For Expo Milano 2015, chef Massimo Bottura had the idea of opening a very special soup kitchen that would feed the poor and homeless of Milan with meals prepared from the waste food of Expo. Davide Rampello, the curator of Expo’s main theme pavilion – Pavilion Zero - soon joined the project. Together they turned to the Vatican for help.


Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan was immediately enthusiastic and asked Caritas Ambrosiana, the Church’s charitable arm in Milan, to run the soup kitchen. Wanting the Refettorio Ambrosiano to help a neglected part of Milan, a site was selected in Greco, a modest working neighbourhood. Don Giuliano, the parish priest of Greco, suggested an abandoned theater next to his church. The Refettorio Ambrosiano was born.

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Massimo and Davide Rampello turned to Milan’s famed Politecnico for the design and building of the Refettorio, transforming the abandoned Teatro Greco into a 21st century refectory. The stage was turned into a kitchen and the auditorium the dining room.

Rampello's Interview


To seat the 96 guests of the Refettorio Ambrosiano, Massimo and Davide invited 14 of Italy’s finest designers to design modern refectory tables. Each table was unique. The designers donated their work to the Refettorio project.


Massimo and Davide also invited several of Italy’s greatest living artists to create original artworks for the Refettorio. These artists also donated their work to the project.

The art of the Refettorio

The future of the Refettorio

Thanks to Caritas Ambrosiana, the soup kitchen lives on permanently, serving the hungry. The beautiful tables and artwork remain.

Cardinal Scola, Massimo, Davide, and Don Giuliano were all dedicated to making sure the Refettorio would last beyond Expo – to become a permanent, meaningful asset to the city of Milan and the community of Greco in particular. The Refettorio Ambrosiano has become a true community Center, presenting theater, music and special events for the community of Greco and the people of Milan. From the waste food now comes from Co-op supermarkets and a nearby school, the Instituto Compresivo Locatelli-Quasimodo. The community of Greco has formed an association for the Refettorio.

The future of the Refettorio