Foodies Rejoice, Italy Is Building “The Disneyland of Food”
This is why Mona Lisa was smiling.
According to Eat Pray Love, gaining a layer of pasta blubber is a mandatory part of any American’s experience in Italy. Thankfully, Italy is now developing Eataly, a Disneyland inspired, mouth-watering theme park designed specifically to help tourists ciao down.
If “Eataly” sounds familiar, you’ve probably considered having Eye-talian at a restaurant chain with the same name. There are 26 Eataly locations in China, Italy, Japan, Dubai, Turkey, Chicago, and New York, and the company will be partnering with the city of Bologna (I see what you did there, geography) to develop Fico Eataly, the first theme park dedicated solely to getting your grub on.
Bologna-controlled Centro Agro Alimentare has donated a plot of unused land to develop a 20-acre park. Promoters estimate that Gluttony Studios will be completed by 2015, so start practicing your fork twirling skills now.
Fico Eataly isn’t the only theme park in development on unused Italian land. An abandoned island in Venice also will be given the Disney treatment by Antonio Zamperla, owner of parts of Coney Island. Maybe “shooting the freak” will be less reprehensible overseas?
Italian fund-management company Prelios SGR has been raising money for Fico Eataly, and hopes to ultimately create food-centric theme parks in Asia and other countries. Prelios has already raised €85 million from Bolognese banks and other investors, but chief executive Paolo Scordino estimates that it will ultimately take €400 million (about $54.9 million) to make the park a reality.
Just what can one expect from a trip to Fico Eataly? Restaurants, obviously. But the Eataly experience will also offer food stores, food labs (!) and an aquarium, just because.
Since Eataly’s promoters repeatedly use Disneyland as a frame of reference, it seems safe to assume that there will also be rides (a calzone drop zone? A leaning tower of Pizza?) for you to lose your delicious starchy lunch on, and disgruntled teenagers dressed as stromboli or gnocchi.
According to this artist’s rendition, Eataly Fico will also offer a lot of meat hanging from the ceiling.
Scordino is confident that the park will be a success, estimating a revenue of €86 million a year by 2019. Explains the financier, “We want to enhance the value of every single square meter. Each square meter will be linked to a business line and will directly or indirectly produce revenue, as happens in Disney’s parks.”
Grab your stretchy pants and bibs, guys. Finally, Italy will be fun again for people who don’t like art.