On my recent visit to Bologna, Italy I had the chance to explore FICO (Fabbrica Italiana Contadina), the largest food park in the world that just recently opened in November 2017. It’s specifically dedicated to showcasing the Italian cuisine with not only delicious dishes and treats you can try, but also through educational activities that feature animals and plants. Below you’ll find more about my trip to this incredible park and what it has to offer visitors.
FICO covers about 25 acres in eastern Bologna. It features classrooms, restaurants, and hands-on activities that let guests learn more about cuisine through history, cooking, and eating. This park not only offers many different markets you can browse through, but includes campuses where you can take classes and hear talks on the various fields in culinary arts. Because this park is so big, you can be directed around it by special Biodiversity Ambassadors which will give you a tour of the park and explain more behind certain aspects and areas of it. This park is great for families as well thanks to all the interactive exhibits designed to help children learn more about nature in a fun way.
How to Get Here
Getting to the park isn’t difficult, but you need to pay close attention to the types of transportation available for you to use. There are two main types you can choose from: taxis and buses.
The shuttle bus service will take you around various points in the park so you can get on and off when needed. It has a 30 minute run (starting at 9:30 AM) and will take you from Bologna Centrale to the FICO park.
Your other option is to hail a taxi from the COTABO Taxi Company. The taxi can pick you up at the airport, hotel, or any other destination in the city and take you to FICO. It costs about €36 for a roundtrip to the city centre. For more information and alternative ways to reach FICO click here.
Exploring FICO: Things to Do
There are plenty of things this park has to offer for visitors. Below are some of its highlights and things you should definitely do and see while here.
See the Live Animals They Have
FICO offers over 200 live animals you can view grazing in fields or in stalls. You’ll be able to view animals like geese, sheep, pigs, and rabbits and learn more about their role in Italian cuisine.
Explore the Gardens and Tree Cultivating Areas
You’ll find plenty of gardens and tree cultivating areas in FICO. You can see magnificent citrus and fruit trees in addition to herb and vegetable gardens to name a few. You’ll be able to explore how these plants grow and how you can plant them in your own garden.
Stop by the Educational Carousels
These are unique and artistic features this park offers that show the close relationship that humans and nature have. FICO has 6 different types of educational carousels: Man and Fire, Man and Earth, Man: From Soil to Bottle, Man and Sea, Man and Animals, and Man and Future. It looks at all of these different relationships by giving visitors unique interactive activities they can partake in. To view the carousels, you can buy a special ticket to get into the area they are held in.
Enjoy the Many Different Food Companies and Classes
There are over 40 farm factories you can tour and view to see how various types of food are made, like cheese and pasta. Many Italian companies have moved part of their production to this park which gives you the opportunity to see experts making these things.
This food park will also amaze you with the numerous amounts of food companies and classes you can enjoy here. FICO offers 50 classes every day and the rooms can hold up to 1,000 people per talk! Some classes I took while visiting here dabbled in areas like pizza, the degustation of beer, cheesemaking, the different types of balsamic vinegar, and the sweet Italian biscuit biscotti. I even learned how to make various types of pasta thanks to my teacher Elena who taught me the trick behind creating garganelli, tortellini, tortelloni, and tagliatelle.
Eat at a Restaurant
A trip to FICO wouldn’t be complete without eating at one of its many restaurants. You have a wide selection to choose from thanks to its 45 restaurants. One restaurant I dined at was La Pasta di Amerigo where I was able to try the mouthwatering Pasta Bolognese which was made from freshly made pasta, vegetables, and cheese grown and made right in the FICO park. Besides this restaurant, you’ll also find other ones like Rosso Pomodoro, a pizzeria, and the Giardino Cucina Mediterranea, a restaurant dedicated solely to dishes made up of vegetables.
I also had a few tastings at the various kiosks that are scattered around the park. These kiosks are a great way to try small portions of native Italian foods like porchetta, focaccia bread, and arrosticini.
FICO offers many different types of shops you can browse through. You can buy practically any type of food and items which are often made from the things grown here. You’ll find bookshops where you can buy cookbooks, eco-friendly makeup stores, garden centers, and wine shops.
A great thing that FICO offers is that it has a post office on its grounds. Here you’ll be able to pack up any foods and gifts you find in the park that you enjoy and have the post office ship it back to your home or to friends and family. This makes the post office perfect for tourists to send back unique foods they find here so others can enjoy what FICO has to offer.
A trip to FICO certainly is one you’ll want to consider taking. Not only will you be able to try an incredible array of Italian foods, but learn more behind the history of it and how we can work at being better stewards of nature. If you happen to be in Bologna or are looking for a special place to take a trip to, definitely consider venturing to FICO.
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I was a guest of Bologna Welcome but as always, opinions are my own.