“FICO was designed to talk about food starting from the beginning, and not from the end. This means, not just talking about dishes made by top chefs, as is the case in many of today’s TV shows, but highlighting the entire food chain: agriculture, livestock farming, farm life, transformation, and all the way to sales and catering.” Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti‘s words at the media press conference perfectly sum up the philosophy of the new, world’s largest agri-food park, covering a huge area of 100,000 square meters dedicated to the magic of Italian food, all with free admission for the public.
The history of FICO
Open since 15th November 2017 in Bologna, “a city with ideal logistics, a great food culture, and growing tourism,” as described by the city’s mayor, Virginio Merola. FICO Eataly World resides in the former CAAB (Bologna agricultural centre) spaces and is a concrete proof of effective collaboration between the public administration and private businesses. Andrea Segrè and Alessandro Bonfiglioli, respectively the President and Executive Director of CAAB, pioneered the project, which an enthusiastic approval by the City of Bologna. Large and small operators in the sector got quickly on board, starting with Eataly, who were one of the primary private companies that put together the necessary investments to start the project. So, over the 5 years between 2012 and 2017, it has become a unique place in Italy and the world, where today more than 150 companies are actively collaborating.
10 hectares dedicated to Italian food
You could say that FICO is a mix between World EXPO, Eataly, and Disney World. From EXPO, it carried over the attention to agricultural themes, livestock farming, and sustainability, translating this into 2 hectares of cultivated fields and stables with over 200 animals and 2000 cultivars. There is also a strong education component (30 events and 50 courses a day for adults and children in classrooms, the theatre, or various teaching spaces). From Eataly, it offers an enormous variety of products to buy and places to eat (over 40 kiosks and restaurants), plus over 40 farming companies showing their produce including meat, fish, cheese, pasta, oil, and sweets. From Disney World, it takes the recreational aspect with 6 multimedia fun-rides, interactive themed spaces dedicated to man’s relationship with fire, animals, the earth, the sea, bottles, and the future, as well as sports fields and entertainment areas for children. The 8 ha of covered areas can be travelled on foot or you can borrow a free bike and use the central cycle path.
FICO, a “permanent EXPO”
In short, there are plenty of things to do at FICO, for adults and children, for Italians and tourists, or anyone who wants to observe, listen, eat, buy, or simply have fun. And to appreciate the one true protagonist of the park: Italy. Its biodiversity, its regions, and its culture. “FICO is the channelling of EXPO,” said Vincenzo De Luca, Director General for the Promotion of the Italian Economic System at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “with this project we are putting Italy at the centre of the world: here we are telling the story of our country, and strengthening the winning link between the quality and regional traditions, which in the food sector always go hand in hand.”