In November 2017 the FICO Eataly World was inaugurated in Bologna, Italy. It is the largest food park in the world, with 100,000 square meters dedicated to Italian gastronomy and local products. Without a doubt, it was the new “Disneyland of food”, with all the positive and negative views. For this reason, since its initial planning, there have been few critical voices with this project. In Labois we have visited it and this has been our experience.
The commitment to local products
The FICO space is the flagship of the Eataly company, an international supermarket chain specializing in Italian products. We are not talking about mass consumption products, which can be found in any supermarket, but food is produced by relatively small or semi-artisan companies. If anything we should praise the Eataly, is this commitment to local products, being currently a major multinational distributor. Its stores also stand out as a refuge for foodies looking for traditional food, but also the most authentic and natural flavors. And all this, decorated with much care and elegance. If you have been stung by curiosity, you should know that today it has 35 stores spread all over the world. Also, it has an online store with shipments to many countries.
If you visit any of its stores, you may be surprised by its approach and distribution. And, despite offering traditional products, these stores have adapted to the pace of today’s life. Therefore, you will find products to travel by plane, gift packages, restaurant or terrace where you can eat what you buy. It is not surprising that its decoration is located halfway between traditional Italian architecture and contemporary.
Visit FICO Eataly World
Returning to Bologna, the FICO Eataly World was raised as a space to collect and project all the Italian gastronomic diversity. The “only” difference with the other stores, is that this project was much, much bigger. 45 restaurants, kitchens where 30 daily sessions are open to the public, congress hall for 1,000 people, 3,000 workers and 100,000 square meters of total space. It is located in the old wholesale market of Bologna, which has been totally converted into this gigantic commercial space. Actually, they are figures that bring it closer to a gastronomic theme park, similar to Ikea or Disneyland.
Faced with such huge figures, mobility within the FICO Eataly World is proportional. In addition to hundreds of parking spaces, it also has bus lines that connect directly with the central station of Bologna. If you opt for private transport, you should know that access to the site is free and is made through a monumental entrance, similar to a highway. Once inside, it is best to take a breath and move calmly. From end to end, this complex measures almost one kilometer. Therefore, in addition to banks and terraces where to have a drink and rest, FICO Eataly World offers some bikes with boxes to make our purchases. They are very cute and with them you can comfortably move through the wide corridors of this megastore. Go accompanied by a map is essential;)
On the other hand, we recommend minimally planning the visit, what to see and what to eat. In one day it is almost impossible to visit and try everything. In addition, FICO Eataly World offers cultural activities, training sessions, temporary exhibitions, cinema, theater and farms open to the public. Some of these activities are paid and require prior reservation.
Present and future
Strolling through the huge corridors of the FICO Eataly World is a delight for the senses. The gastronomic spaces and restaurants are beautifully designed and in project, in general, it supposes an ethical and educational impulse for the region and the tourists. Even yes, we can not avoid saying that FICO Eataly World is not made on a human scale. Its dimensions, in many cases disproportionate, break with the good reputation of other stores of Eataly.
Likewise, to our knowledge, it is not comparable to the charm of the traditional market, the beauty of the Renaissance squares or the character of the small store of all life. Although the product is local, the space transmits an industrial atmosphere. Not for that reason we should see it as something negative: no doubt Bologna wins a new economic engine with this space. But for us, FICO Eataly World has not paid tribute to the culture and heritage of Italy. Rather, it is a place to take shelter from a rainy day or extreme heat during the holidays. It is also a place to find restaurants for all tastes. But in no case, can be understood as a model of traditional Italian cuisine.