FICO Eataly World: An Italian theme park unlike any other

November 3, 2017 | By | 19 Replies More
Rendering of entrance to FICO Eataly World

Rendering of entrance to FICO Eataly World

When FICO Eataly World opens in Bologna, Italy later this month, it will be one of the most unique theme parks in the world.

Food glorious food

There’s been Graceland, Dollywood, Legoland, Universal Studios and Walt Disney Parks. So it’s not surprising that someone would finally come up with the idea of an “agri-food park,” a theme park dedicated to food.

FICO Eataly World is the brainchild of the same creative team that has been behind the wildly popular and highly successful international chain, Eataly (which CEO Oscar Farinetti has already expanded to 10 countries with plans to open many more).

Aerial view of FICO Eataly World

Aerial view of FICO Eataly World

Clearly, we live in a food-centric culture where chefs are revered like celebrities; our food obsessions are regularly captured and shared on our smartphones; and culinary travel is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry. And there’s no longer any shame in being an unabashed foodie.

But nowhere is the food as good as it is in Italy and even Italians acknowledge that the country’s best foods are found in the fertile Emilia Romagna region. The precious specialties of the region, which have received protective designations from the government, include Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Aceto Balsamico di Modena.

The Foods of Emilia Romagna

The Foods of Emilia Romagna

Carpaccio salad with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Carpaccio with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (Photo credit: Jerome Levine)

Salumi in Bologna

Salumi in Bologna (Photo credit: Jerome Levine)

We’ve made pilgrimages to Emilia Romagna to learn about and consume these unique products (including piadina and tigella breads, tortelloni pasta and squacquerone cheese) and have had opportunities to visit with and meet home cooks and local producers.

A new attraction

However, the opening of FICO Eataly World will be a game-changer in accelerating the region’s growth as a tourist mecca. The new park is expected to draw some 10 million visitors a year. It will be located about 25 minutes away (by car) from the historic center of Bologna, one of the food capitals of the world, giving us and many others the perfect excuse to visit.

(Watch out, Paris! We heard your croissants are at risk, anyway, because of the butter shortage.)

Nicknamed a “Disney World for Food Lovers” (with the tagline “From Field to Fork),” FICO Italy World will welcome food lovers of all ages. (FICO is a double-play on words. It is the acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Contadina [Italian agricultural factory] and also the slang term for “cool” in Italian.)

Visitors will be able to tour the 20-acre, $106 million park by foot or by tricycles equipped with chill bags to keep their purchases as cool as the park. “Biodiversity Ambassadors” will provide guided tours in both Italian and English.

Powered by what is said to be the largest solar panel installation in Europe, the park will feature 40 farming factories as well as 40 eateries (restaurants, trattorias, bistros and street food kiosks) where visitors can taste traditional foods, take classes, and learn about the processing of foods. FICO Eataly will even have its own post office.

Cheese-making at FICO Eataly World

Cheese-making at FICO Eataly World

Another area of the park (called the Mercato) will be dedicated to markets and shops. Open-air fields and stables with animals will offer visitors opportunities to learn about crops and animal breeds native to the region.

Open-air fields

Open-air fields

Hands-on activities will include how-to workshops on gelato-making, Italian bread-making, digging for truffles, and more. There will also be rides and entertainment for people of all ages.

Truffle farm at FICO Eataly World

Truffle farm at FICO Eataly World

If you are a food lover planning a trip to Italy, you’ll want to check into this new opening! If not, it might be time to book your trip!

*All photo renderings courtesy of FICO Eataly World. 


Read more: Conde Nast Traveler got a sneak peek of Eataly World during a hard-hat tour.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Nancy Monson says:

    I love Eatly in NYC and Boston, so this theme park sounds amazing to me! I’ll have to put Bologna on my travel list, Irene.

  2. OMG, this sounds amazing. I’m headed to Italy now but have never been to Bologna. Glad I waited so I can go to this food market.

  3. michele h peterson says:

    I love the idea of exploring this food park by tricycles equipped with chill bags – how brilliant!

  4. I am so utterly, absolutely ready for this! After all, I’m the one who drove from my home near Geneva all the way to Turin to buy some Eataly anchovies… Sadly I’ll have to wait for the new year to try this park but when I go, I may have to forgo my usual solo style – I’ll have to bring someone along to drag me away at closing time. Yes. I cannot wait!!

  5. Cindy says:

    I’ve been known to travel for a cannoli so a food park like this sounds fantastic. I’ve always wanted to visit the Emilia Romagna region so now another reason to get going!

  6. Cindy L says:

    Wow, that sounds like a culinary dream come true!

  7. A theme park focused around food? How very interesting :-). That idea of riding a tricycle with a “chill bag” to store your food purchases is very cool :-).

    • Because food is such a part of the history and culture of Emilia Romagna, this is the perfect (perhaps, the only) suitable location for a theme park focused on food. Lyon, France might be another!

  8. Sue Reddel says:

    This looks like my heaven. Surrounded by all that Italian food. It simply doesn’t get better than that. Thanks for sharing this. It’s on our agenda – and at the top of the list.

  9. FICO Eataly World in Bologna, Italy will certainly be a hit with visitors. What a brilliant and creative idea!

  10. This place will definitely be a must visit place, Irene. I am so excited for it. Let us know your review when it opens! 😉

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