Is FICO (Eataly) in Bologna Worth Visiting?

Italy is a country that has a lot to offer both new and experienced travellers alike. It has great people, architecture, and the country is steeped in history dating back for millenia. But what really makes Italy stand out is the food, and there’s no better place to experience it than in the city of Bologna.

Bologna is often referred to by the locals as “la dotta, la rossa e la grassa”, which means “The Learned, The Red, and The Fat”. This is a reference to the city’s university, which is considered to be Europe’s oldest, the distinct red hues of the terracotta buildings, and of course, its phenomenal food.

The city itself has long since been a world-famous destination for foodies. It has some top grade restaurants, markets filled to the brim with exotic ingredients and locals that know their way around food. Bologna’s fame in food itself has culminated in the creation of a food theme park known as FICO Eataly World.

What is FICO?

FICO is a theme park that’s about 10 hectares big, and is dedicated to Italian gastronomy. It has a huge collection of exhibits that shows how Italian cuisine is prepared from the ingredients to the finished product, representing the country’s deep food traditions.

This theme park has everything from cultivated fields to stables, housing more than 200 animals, and more than 2000 types of vegetables and fruits. FICO also has approximately 40 food factories that people can visit and partake in the preparation of various ingredients, and a little over 40 kiosks or restaurants where you can have a taste of the actual dish.

FICO certainly has a lot to offer if you’re into food, whether you’re a novice foodie or a veteran gourmand. But is it worth visiting? Here’s some of the pros and cons for you to consider so you can decide for yourself.

The Good

The Attractions are Varied

FICO’s motto sums up the number of attractions perfectly: “Dal campo alla forchetta”, from field to fork. Every square inch of the theme park certainly has something to explore, from the creation of traditional Italian food ingredients, especially cheeses, to the actual cooking and serving of those same ingredients to create authentic Italian cuisine. It’s not infinite, but this place will certainly keep you busy for more than a couple of days, maybe more.

Everything in One Roof

Because many of the exhibits are meant to showcase Italy’s traditional cuisines, you can basically find everything food-related in Italy within one place. This means that there’s no need to run from one point of Bologna to another if you’re hellbent on trying out every restaurant or food kiosk in the city. If you want to have a food tour of the city, you can practically do it in one place.

There’s Plenty of Shops

If you’re going down with a bit of a shopping fever, FICO also has something for you to do. Aside from a good selection of food factories and farms, there’s also about 44 food stalls and restaurants where you can buy everything food-related that Bologna has to offer. If your idea of a good souvenir involves authentic food or ingredients, then there’s no better place in Italy.

There’s No Entrance Fee

While the stores themselves do sell things, getting into the actual FICO theme park is free. This means you can take as many friends and family with you as you want, for as long as you want. Of course, many of the individual exhibits themselves might charge an entrance fee, so make sure you bring your wallet regardless.

The Bad

It’s Huge

10 hectares isn’t a joke if you’re planning on walking around FICO. If you can rent out a scooter or a bike, then you’re free to ride it in, but not a car. It’s best to rent out a bike before you actually get to FICO in the first place, because…

It’s Not Easy to Get To

FICO is a good distance away from Bologna’s city center, and is a bit out of ways from the main highway. It’s not completely remote, but it can be a hard place to get to if you’re not familiar with the city’s shuttle system, or if you didn’t rent a car.

It’s Geared More Towards Locals

FICO hasn’t made much effort to catch the attention of the foodies outside of Italy, so it can be difficult to navigate without the proper guidance. Don’t get us wrong, it’s good that Bologna is spreading awareness of Italy’s food traditions to the people of Italy. But the locals aren’t the only ones who would appreciate the gastronomic journey Italy has to offer, and if steps were taken to correct this, FICO will certainly have way more visitors.

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