FICO Eataly World, the big daddy of Italian food and drink is set to open in Bologna. FICO short for Fabbrica Italiana Contadina and Eataly will be the largest Italian marketplace and agri-food park in the world. “FICO-Italy for the world to see” is their tagline. Opening day is November 15th and I was lucky to have a private pre-opening tour.
Situated on almost 25 acres outside the city center of Bologna, FICO is a world unto itself. It’s an ode to the importance of food in Italy. Over 40 restaurants and kiosks represent the many types of foods and drink that are a part of Italy and its culture. Every region is represented. There will be 25 daily classes and demonstrations where customers can learn more about where their food comes from or how it is made. Of course pasta, bread, cheese, wine and olive oil are important components. But there will also be presentations of chocolate, eggs, fish, balsamic vinegar, honey, vegetables, beer and panettone to name a few. There’s even a tartufaio where you can see how the specially trained dogs hunt for truffles.
During my behind the scenes visit, the tortellini machine was being tested.
FICO Eataly World will be the only place in Italy where you can find the entire food production chain, from field to fork. Based on the 5 acres of vegetable gardens all grown seasonally, grapes and the 200 animals (rabbits, cows, chickens, goats, sheep, turkeys and geese) on the property, they are correct. (And no, they don’t use the animals for cooking – I asked).
Opening hours will be 10:00 am – midnight almost every day of the year. Entrance is free as are the 3-wheeled bicycles (with baskets) that you can ride around inside on the bike path. Considering the distance from the entrance to exit is almost one mile, that’s a nice option. Education will be an important part of what will go on at FICO and they expect to have 100,000 students each year for classes, guided tours and demonstrations.
Getting to FICO will be easy. If you drive, there’s a large parking lot for a fee. Buses leave every twenty minutes from the Bologna train station. Taxis will charge a flat fee. There will also be special buses leaving from several cities including Florence, Mantova, Milan, Brescia and Verona.
There will be a huge market to purchase all of these Made in Italy products including a large bookshop. You can enjoy a meal at FICO or bring some new favorite foods to wherever home may be. The checkout will be what you’d find at a big grocery store. Someone will even carry your groceries to the car.
As the capital of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna is a beautiful city to visit. To see FICO Eataly World is one more reason to experience this beautiful part of Italy. And of course I’m always happy to help plan your FICO Bologna adventure!