My experience at Fico Eataly World in Bologna
In November 2017, Fico Eataly World, the world’s largest agri-food park opened its doors to the public. 6 months later, more than 1.3 million visitors already had the chance to explore the gigantic 100,000 sqm park, broken into 2 main strips, dedicated to the Italian biodiversity and food specialties.
The park has been designed by Oscar Farinetti, the founder of Eataly, who reinvented the food hall concept in the early 2000’s.
Fico stands for Fabbrica Italiana Contadina (the Italian Food Factory) but also means “cool” in Italian. A fancy double meaning which is probably not understood by foreigners unfortunately.
Fico’s customer experience looks like the one you can have at a theme park. After driving through the gates, you are invited to park your car on large parking lots that are laid out all around the main building.
The massive complex has not been built for Fico though. True to its commitment to reduce its carbon footprint, Fico Eataly World has just bought the building from the previous owners and turned it into a temple which celebrates Italian gastronomy and culture. In addition, thousands of solar panels installed on the roofs allow Fico to achieve energy self-sufficiency. And last, visitors can borrow bikes to pedal into the premises and burn off a portion of the calories they are likely to intake.
Fico’s purpose is to showcase Italian biodiversity to the broadest audience possible, whatever the country, the demographics or the social background.
Right from the entrance, Fico makes it obvious to visitors that Italy stands out from the rest of Europe when it comes to agriculture. Take the apple production for example. Italia, and Italia alone, accounts for 1000 varieties of apples out of the 1,200 that you can find throughout the EU.
Some creative benches are displayed now and then to take a break.
The customer journey ends with a large Eataly supermarket.
To wrap-up the visit, I would like to point out that Fico Eataly World is definitely a retail and entertainment destination for a broader audience, ranging from hard core foodies to families on a quest for a cultural yet entertaining experience. It is obviously less authentic and vibrant than worldwide famous Eataly Food Halls, but Fico has a different purpose: educate people about Italian food and culture so that both the younger generations and tourists be aware of the necessity to protect and support them in our over-industrialized food world.
Oscar Farinetti is already preparing a new destination venue that will celebrate the 2 other F’s of the Italian economy and culture, apart from Food, A.K.A Furniture and Fashion. The project is called The Great Pea and is likely to be disclosed in 2019.