Fico, Italy’s interpretation of a theme park

We had a preview of the gigantic site that will open on November 15th in Bologna. Patron Oscar Farinetti was our guide

by Paolo Marchi
Paolo Marchi and Claudio Ceroni, that is to say

Paolo Marchi and Claudio Ceroni, that is to say the creative and entrepreneurial minds of Identità Golose, had a sneak preview of Fico in Bologna. With an exceptional guide: patron Oscar Farinetti. All photos by Brambilla-Serrani​


Our photo-gallery from FICO, la Fabbrica Italiana Contadina in Bologna. All the photos are by Brambilla-Serrani

«A month and a half before the opening, Expo’s building site was in a much worse state», the comparison fits perfectly. Oscar Farinetti waits at the entrance of his most imposing project, right after the barriers at the entrance, like those on the Italian motorway: FICO, la Fabbrica Italiana Contadina in Via Paolo Canali 8, in Bologna, on the border with Castenaso and Granarolo dell’Emilia.

Ceroni, Farinetti, Marchi

Ceroni, Farinetti, Marchi

The great opening for the press is scheduled on the 8th November, with 500 media professionals from all around the world. Italian representatives of art, music, literature are invited the following day... Mister Eataly dreams of Bocelli singing under the sky of the most dreamed about country by the rest of the world and most belittled by those born and living here, no matter what. Despite being Olympic self-harm champions, we Italians can luckily give positive surprises too. This is what foreigners are crazy about.

On Thursday 15th November everyone will get inside the Italian and delicious Never Never LandFico, next to the university of Agriculture, basically replaced the old Caab, Centro Agro Alimentare Bologna which moved a little further, like in the song by Sorelle Bandiera. A huge design from ages ago, it was half empty for ever. Farinetti filled that space. He looks for guaranteed second hand, sometimes hardly used as with stazione Ostiense in Rome «It worked for 32 days during the 1990 World Cup, then was closed for 20 years, a scandal». That’s where he created Eataly Ostiense.

While Expo in Milan developed along two perpendicular lines, decumano and cardo, where millions of people walked, Fico’s diagram recalls a gun, the long axis is the barrel, the short is the handle, the congress centre is the trigger, the dessert area and the gym are the hammer. «Where people will get more calories, I added gym equipment, a beach-volley field, sand to celebrate Romagna’s coast». The two wide and long covered avenues meet almost at the end, like a crane, except they spread on the ground, and not metres and metres above.

The entrance is in the left corner, in front of parking area 1. The first two hours will be free. Contrary to Disney-like theme parks, you only pay what you buy or use. The entrance is free, except for the six educational carousels, two euros. When the first parking area is full, cars will be directed to the second one, at the end of the short side, which ends with the cash registers, already in place but still wrapped, a dozen it seems. I asked Farinetti if they’re not too few. His answer? Just two, sudden words: «Let’s hope».

A Christian principle is put into practice: those who park in front of the entrance, will leave far away. Those who’ll park in the second area, will be right there: «The first will be the last and the last will be the first», words that Mister Eataly made his own. He immediately points at an indefinite spot: «Trenitalia will make us a copy of a Frecciarossa on wheels that will move outside the site and there will be nine buses that will bring people here from the centre of Bologna. You’ll see the shopping carts: they also have a sort of electric Ape scooter with baskets where you can place your products. You can walk for kilometres here, not everyone is as fit as a marathon runner».

There’s not enough space in this article. There are so many things to tell. One above all, a message for the future: «The French, contrary to the Americans, made a huge mistake when they opened EuroDisney. A theme park is perfect for a country without a history like the United States, where if you go back in time you stop at Fort Alamo. Here, instead, we display the best we’re capable of producing today, next to centuries and centuries of beauty. Here we have a farm and a factory, we don’t just make, sell and use».

Farinetti points at the back where they have barns for cattle, pigs and sheep but also hens and beehives. «When I was a child, Paolo, seeing hens scratching about and laying eggs at my grandparents’, in Brianza or Valsugana, was normal. Or rabbits. These days very few people can say so. These animals are now over there, and this is priceless». So someone will learn that chicken and hen are not born naked.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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Our photo-gallery from FICO, la Fabbrica Italiana Contadina in Bologna. All the photos are by Brambilla-Serrani