A Sneak Peek of Eataly World, Italy’s $106 Million Food Theme ParkWritten by admin , October 23rd, 2017 // Food & Drink
“Do you feel fico?” say the signs at the doorway to FICO Eataly World. The acronym stands for Fabbrica Italiana Contadina, or Italian Agricultural Factory. But “fico” is also Italian slang for “cool.” And the world’s first foodie theme park—scheduled to open November 15 on the outskirts of Bologna—certainly lives up to its name.
The team behind Eataly World—including Oscar Farinetti, founder of the incredibly popular Eataly chain of food stores—has so far been tight-lipped about what exactly the $106 million, 20-acre complex will hold. But with the opening date in sight, Condé Nast Traveler scored a hard-hat tour of the site, located at the former Centro AgroAlimentare Bolognese produce market outside Italy’s gastronomic capital. Here’s what you should make a beeline for once Eataly World officially opens its doors.
Part of the “ring” of grounds that loop around the main complex, dubbed the Terra del Tartufo, or Truffle Land, is a specially constructed area where truffles will be grown (in other words, where trees with truffle spores will be planted). Dogs will be brought in for daily truffle hunt demonstrations, and individual truffles—both white and black—will be hidden in the earth to avoid any disappointment.
Eataly World’s aim is to give a hands-on experience, with staff producing things like cheese and pasta in glassed-off kitchens, visible to all. But for a fee (entrance to the main complex is free), you’ll be able to sign up to a behind-the-scenes tour. In the pasta room, for example, you’ll witness the process right from the grinding of the flour to forming the pasta, and see freshly-made penne, tagliatelle, and filled tortellini laid out on trays to dry out. Not only that, but you’ll be able to buy spaghetti dried for either 12, 24, or 36 hours, depending on your preference. Why? “Because spaghetti is the king of Italy,” says Eataly World boss Tiziana Primori. Hour-long tours will cost €20 ($24) and span four producers.
All the Cheese
Each section—whether that’s pasta, cured meats, wine, or spirits—is overseen by a specialist, whose job is to curate a selection of products from all over Italy. The dairy department is being headed up by Granarolo, an Emilia Romagna company founded in 1957 that’s now the biggest player in Italy’s dairy industry (a small local cheese producer also has a nearby stall). At Eataly World, Granarola is going back to its roots: It has a herd of cows out back and uses milk from its nearby farm to produce cheese and yogurt onsite using old-school, artisanal methods. Products, in retro packaging, will be sold next door at the Bottega di Formaggi Italiani, or Italian Cheese Store, along with artisanal cheeses sourced from all over Italy, including 20 of the country’s 25 DOP cheeses (those stamped with Denominazione di Origine Protetta, meaning Protected Designation of Origin), whose origin and quality are strictly controlled.
Eataly World will house outlets of three Michelin-starred restaurants, including Rimini’s Guido. Perhaps most exciting, though, is the Le Soste consortium project, where a rotation of Michelin-starred chefs will give cooking demonstrations for visitors throughout the year. Primori promises that “all the main starred chefs” of Italy will be taking part, including Enrico Bartolini and Massimo Bottura, who will be curating the line-up.
Wondering how to lug your purchases around the site? Concerned your prosciutto needs to stay cool? They got this. A 500-strong fleet of tricycles has been developed especially for the site by local company Bianchi. The baby blue bikes—free to use—have produce baskets as well as chill-bags for refrigerated items, and a cycle track runs through the central halls of the premises.
Sport Sites (Seriously)
Italians rarely diet or cut carbs, but they do exercise, so the site will have a “well-being” section aptly positioned next to the dessert area. There are courts for tennis and beach volleyball, both accessible for a small fee. But it’s not too goody-goody; beside them sits a faux beach cabana, which will serve as a bar for those who’d rather sit out the games in favor of a stiff drink.
An “Infinity of Negroni”
Primori wanted every single type of Italian liquor stocked at the site, says Eataly World’s booze specialist Luca Pirola—a tall order, since the country produces more than 100 brands of gin, more than 200 vermouths, and every city makes its own liquor, “each as different as its dialect.” To realize his vision, Primori has opted to rotate stock, with specialized, weekly liquor tastings. “Italy makes 200 different bitters,” Pirola says. “So, if we have 200 vermouths and 200 bitters, we can make 1,000 kinds of Negroni[cocktails]. One week, we’ll make it with the first gin and the first vermouth. The next week, with the first gin and the second vermouth. Add in the bitters, and you have an infinity of Negroni.”
What would a food theme park be without cooking lessons? The sfogline (pasta-makers) of local group SfogliAmo are setting up shop in brand-new kitchens at the site. You’ll learn how to make fresh pasta in the Bolognese style (think tortellini and tagliatelle), and then have a well-earned tasting at the end.
If you love Eataly stores, you’re going to love the Mercato, where much of the shopping takes place—nearly 100,000 square feet will be dedicated to Italian products. As well as items produced onsite, you’ll find the sauces, pasta, and specialist flour beloved of Eataly fans, as well as fresh local produce, niche products, and special editions made especially for Eataly World (like FICO organic table wine made locally from just $7 a liter). Everything will be free range, and Primori says food made on site will be biodynamic, if not organic. Even better, there’s no need to worry about baggage allowances–there will be a post office onsite to mail all your purchases.
This is a different kind of theme park, so it’s only fitting it has a different kind of ride. The six giostre, or rides, are interactive multimedia experiences, taking on subjects like “man and the sea” (where there’s an aquarium), “man and animals” (complete with ten things you didn’t know about cats), and “man and fire,” complete with a gigantic fire-pit as a centerpiece, which explains how being able to cook changed our relationship with food. The themes are taken from Oscar Farinetti’s recent book, Ricordiamoci Il Futuro(Let’s Remember the Future).
As well as that, of course, there are the outside areas that they’ve already announced: some 200 animals (including goats, horses, rabbits, bees, and no fewer than ten types of cows), a small vineyard, extensive orchards, and an entrance flanked by two enormous 300-year-old olive trees from Calabria, and a “wall of apples” showcasing 2,000 types of fruit.