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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
IF YOU GO
- FICO Eataly World Website (projected opening date is November 15, 2017, 4:30PM; entry is free although there are charges for different tours and activities).
- Bologna Tourism
- Emilia Romagna Tourism
Read more: Conde Nast Traveler got a sneak peek of Eataly World during a hard-hat tour.