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.

Best Food Experiences in Bologna

If you have a passion for food and wine, then Bologna, Italy is the place you need to have in your travel bucket list. You will live a unique experience and rediscover true Italian flavours. Check out some of the best food experiences that we have compiled for you.

1. Take the 3 food tour.

parmigiano reggiano

The 3 food tour with Foodies Delight is one that will leave you craving for more of Bologna’s delicacies. The 3 food tour is offered at an affordable price for small groups of at least 3 people. The food tour begins with a ride in a luxurious Mercedes van from Bologna at around 7:30 am to about 12:30. If you are at Modena, the tour begins at 8:30. You will have the pleasure of experiencing the full Parmesan cheese production, followed by the legendary Balsamic vinegar production and tasting. The food tour comes to its peak with a visit to Vilani’s Salami which is famous for its delicious Parma ham in Modena. At the end of the food tour, you will have the opportunity to excite your taste buds once again with cured meat tasting. This is a food tour that you can’t afford during your stay in Bologna.

2. Dine at Trattoria Anna Maria.

Tagliatelle al ragú

Your holiday is not complete if you have not experienced the legendary Trattoria Anna Maria in Bologna, it is the sanctuary of Bolognese cookery. The Bolognese cuisines will leave you craving for more. The Trattoria Anna Maria has been making Bolognese traditional meals for over 30 years. The products and ingredients used in making the food are high quality and made in the authentic Bolognese tradition and style. This is what makes it so popular and a personal favourite to both local and international tourists. Trattoria Anna Maria offers you a full 3 course meal of your favourite Bolognese cuisines and your favourite dessert like the Dolce gelato al limone to top it all up. The Italian dishes are made at really pocket-friendly prices and you are guaranteed to receive value for your money because the food is just amazing. The Trattoria Anna Maria is located in Via Belle Arti, 17/A, Bologna. Make your stop and have an unforgettable Italian food experience at Trattoria Anna Maria that will make your vacation even more memorable.

3.Stroll and eat around Mercato delle erbe.

Global market

The Mercato delle erbe is a popular food market in Bologna where you will experience all of the famous Bolognese traditional cuisines. Most tourists prefer the Mercato delle erbe because it is like a hidden gem. It is an indoor market that is hidden to those who are not very familiar with its existence. There are even locals in Bologna who have no idea that the Mercato dele ebbe exists, it is therefore the perfect get-away for a laid back afternoon stroll in the streets of Bologna. The Mercato has been around for over a century, locals used to line out on the streets and offer home made traditional food at affordable prices. Locals used to frequently visit the market to get their daily supply of food as there was a lot of fresh vegetable, meat, cheese, fruits and even fine wine. The market was refurbished and now it is a modern market with great food joints like the Banco 32, which is a seafood joint. Then you can also visit the Altro, a contemporary restaurant that also serves all traditional Bolognese delicacies. Other eateries at Mercato delle ebbe include the Mai Chan, a Japanese take a way restaurant, Pollo e Patate, the place for roast chicken and potatoes and also the Vino e Sapuri for tasty wines.

4. Dine at a private home with Cesarine.

During your stay at Bologna, you can also enjoy dinner at a private home with Cesarine. Le Cesarine include a number of carefully selected hosts that open their homes to visitors and entertain them through offering local food. The main aim of the Cesarine is to share the great local recipes in order to preserve them and pass them on to many generations to come. If you wish to experience firsthand local Bolognese traditions, the Cesarine provides a unique opportunity and a good learning experience of the local Bolognese traditions and delicious recipes that you can go back home and try on your own. All you need to do is to create your Cesarine love list and browse the available Cesarine in the city you are in. Then you are expected to purchase a Cesarine flexi voucher and lastly book your experience with your preferred cesarine and go ahead to experience true Italian recipes. This is an opportunity of a lifetime if you visit Bologna where there are a number of Cesarinas ready to give you the restaurant experience in their homes.

5. Visit Fico in Bologna.

Bologna (BO), 2018, Eataly Bologna: FICO.

Fico is the largest agri food park in Bologna, Italy. Home to over 40 Italian restaurants, Fico,Italy. Offering you some of the best Italian traditional recipes, Fico has all types of eateries from Trattorias, starred restaurants, bistros and food kiosks. The place is fun for all types of ages and no one is sure to go home unsatisfied. The place is a must-visit because it offers all traditional Italian food at one point. It is a favourite to both locals and international tourists who converge for the love of Italian food. There are also relaxing cafes that offer you the best espresso and bars where you can drink from the producers and manufacturers of the finest wines in Italy.

In conclusion, Bologna, Italy has some of the best joints that will let you experience Italian food like never before. The 3 food tour with Foodies delight and the delicious Bolognese recipes at Trattoria Anna Maria, with a stroll at the famous new Mercato delle erbe will give you a wonderful Italian food experience. Not to forget the private dinner with the Cesarine of your choice and a visit to Fico, Bologna to sum it all up. Make a point of visiting the food joints and let your vacation in Bologna be a memorable one.