The city of Bologna, capital of the Emilia Romagna region, is known for its vocation for good food and is nicknamed “La Grassa” meaning “Bologna the fat” for its typical and exquisite dishes. Wonderful dishes like tortellini, mortadella, lasagna, tagliatelle with meat sauce, and crescentine are just some of the characteristic products of this capital of taste.
To consolidate this fame, a well-known Piedmontese entrepreneur, Oscar Farinetti ,took care that after having created a chain of quality food shopping centers in Italy and abroad. In 2012, he jumped at the proposal of agro-economist, Andrea Segrè, and the Director-General of CAAB (Agro Food Center of Bologna), Alessandro Bonfiglioli, elaborators of the first concept of a large Agro-food park, to collaborate and create the “citadel of food and sustainability.”
Five years after Andrea Segrè’s proposal on November 15, 2017, the first Italian food park in the world dedicated to Italian food was born.
The name given by Farinetti was Fabbrica Italiana Contadina (Italian rural factory), which created the acronym FICO (which means Fig) – FICO Eataly World. This was another stroke of genius of the marketing guru as it is assumed the name was chosen to stimulate the imagination and attract MeZ generations accustomed to “pret a manger” (shelf ready to eat food) and to teach children how it is born an egg.
The Italian Farming Factory at its reopening after the period of the pandemic, has re-proposed its 100,000 square meters dedicated to biodiversity and the art of transformation of Italian food. It was designed by architect Thomas Bartoli encompassing 2 hectares of fields and stalls in the open air with 200 animals and 2,000 cultivars to tell of the variety and beauty of national agriculture and breeding. Eight hectares are covered with food factories in operation, which have produced all the most famous ingredients of the Italian table, as well as 26 restaurants with a huge choice of food and wine suitable for all tastes as well as street food where one can eat the culinary specialties of all regions of Italy in one place.
“This is the first food park in the world, which brings the experience of food from its origins to the plate on the table,” said Stefano Cigarini, CEO, “stimulating all 5 senses and combining a passion for flavors and fun.”
The sustainability of the park is implemented in the Metro zero project. The food produced inside it is distributed and served by all the restaurants and operators present. The 55,000 square meters of photovoltaic system (one of the largest in Europe) guarantees over 30% of the energy used, while district heating uses the Bologna incinerator and timber from green and recyclable materials that abound in the park.
Preparatory fun for children
The park puts people at the center of the experience with great attention to families and especially children. Thirty attractions were created, including multimedia pavilions, rides, slides, and interactive panels. Seven themed areas are dedicated to play and fun, including an animal farm at the entrance, factory experiences, and scientific pavilions as the protagonists in the multimedia rides dedicated to the ground, fire, sea, animals.
At the entrance of the megastructure, children can feed cows and other animals on the farm, take a selfie in front of the mock-up of the largest fig tree in the world, knead a pizza, or go aboard a peasant carousel. In the adjacent Luna Park (amusement park) they can sail the Italian seas without leaving the ground, measure their height in pigs and hens instead of meters and centimeters, and discover the magic of the bubble house.
All this while adults delight their palates, discover special flavors, and learn how to prepare a good tortellini or shop for groceries to take home.
The foundation of the park is to promote food, education, knowledge of food, conscious consumption, sustainable production, networking, and the most important realities of agro-food culture and sustainability.
It promotes the Mediterranean diet and its beneficial effect on health; enhances agricultural production and food consumption models that are sustainable from an economic, environmental, energy, and social point of view; and collaborates, among other entities, with the Ministry of the Environment and with CREA (Council for Research in Agriculture) through specific Memoranda of Understanding.
All this at a stone’s throw from the heart of Bologna.