23 May, 2019
Just outside of Bologna, there exists a wonderful, amazing place. It is a place of joy and wonder and deliciousness.
FICO is the “largest food park in the world” and it is absolutely brilliant. It forms part of the Eataly brand and is a glorious celebration of Italian produce, agriculture, biodiversity and gastronomy.
FICO is an exhibition space, a working farm, a teaching space and a store. The complex houses numerous exhibitions about food and agriculture, and over 40 restaurants, each of which specialises in a particular type of food or ingredient.
As well as informative stations about produce of the region, such as parmesan cheese, mortadella and tortellini, the FICO also houses crops (including a vineyard and truffle farm), farm animals, and a butterfly enclosure. Oh, and there is a play area for the kids.
Take your time and sample some Parmigiano Reggiano, organic honey, or artisan natural wine:
Look out for pizza alla mortadella, tortellini con crema di parmiggiano e aceto (tortellini with parmesan cream and balsamic vinegar), a range of spritz flavours at the Fabbri exhibit, wonderful chocolates (pretty much everywhere), and fresh mozzarella di buffalo – among so many other wonderful things!
FICO also offers classes and pasta- and cheese-making demonstrations, and there are multimedia rides to keep visitors entertained throughout the day.
After lunch, you can lounge in a beach chair by the indoor beach bar, sipping on a coffee or licking a decadent gelato from Venchi or the University of Gelato.
My top tip for FICO? Pace yourself and, if travelling with friends, share dishes. Don’t sit down for a large meal, but try small dishes or shared plates at as many places as possible so that you can make the most of your trip and taste as many wonderful courses as possible. I spent 6 hours wandering around FICO with a friend, constantly stopping to sample different products and dishes, and I wholeheartedly recommend this leisurely ‘wander and nibble’ approach.
If you need a break to recover from your food coma, go for a stroll and visit the animals, or check out the agricultural exhibitions:
Once you have spent your day learning about Italian produce and tasting all sorts of delicious goods from the numerous restaurants, you can fill your bags with all sorts of good from the on-site homewares store and food market. Think fresh cheeses, all sorts of pasta, chocolate galore, organic beauty body products, fancy glassware, and all sorts of other wonderful food/household items.
Rest assured, FICO will leave you feeling incredibly satisfied, but with a hunger to continue your love affair with Italian food.
Visitors can reach FICO by car (there is plentiful on-site parking).
If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to get there is by bus. There is a dedicated FICO shuttle bus which runs frequently to and from the site. The bus departs from the portico opposite Bologna Centrale (the main train station). Tickets cost 7 Euro for a round trip and can be purchased at the bar next to the bus stop.
For more information about FICO, where to visit and how to buy tickets,you can visit FICO’s website at https://www.eatalyworld.it/en/.