Creator of Eataly World explains inspiration behind a theme park dedicated to Italian food

Businessman Oscar Farinetti wants to introduce consumers to the very origins of our food

Nicola Chan |

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Eataly World features educational rides and exhibitions – and lots of eateries.

There are theme parks based on our favourite movies, places around the world, and life under the sea. But how about a theme park inspired by something we all adore: food.

Well, foodies can rejoice, as the world’s first food-themed amusement park is now open in Bologna, in northern Italy. FICO Eataly World, which opened its gates to visitors in November last year, pays tribute to Italy’s world-renowned cuisines, as well as its history, culture, and biodiversity. Covering a million square feet, it features 47 restaurants, 40 farmer factories, six classrooms and educational rides, two hectares of farmland, a cinema, a theatre and a congress centre.

The park is the brain-child of Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti, who fittingly hails from the Langhe, the same region of northern Italy that gave the world Nutella. 

Before Eataly – a mash-up of “eat” and “Italy” – became a theme park, Farinetti had already established 37 branches of his Eataly food hall in 11 countries, after opening the first store in Turin, northwest Italy, in 2007. 

Recently, the business mogul travelled to Hong Kong to speak with other entrepreneurs at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre as part of its Business of Design Week. Young Post met him there to find out more about his motivation behind creating a theme park based on our favourite pastime. 

“Normally when we talk about food, we speak about the table, the chef, and the dish. But this is the finish, not the start,” Farinetti told Young Post, explaining that the food production chain is a lot longer than that. 

The food production chain is explained in detail at Eataly World, so diners can appreciate where their food comes from.

Eataly World, therefore, takes visitors on a journey from the very origins of our food – the farmer’s field, the dairy barn or the fish hatchery – to our plates. 

Farinetti firmly believes in the importance of learning about where food comes from and how it is made, as it’s what we use to fuel our bodies. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most popular zone of the theme park, Farinetti revealed, was the Pizza Corner, followed closely by the Pasta Corner. But aside from showcasing the culinary delights of Italy, Farinetti hopes Eataly World teaches people more about Italy’s traditions and culture, and makes his people proud of their country.   

When asked what he was hoping to accomplish in the Design Week, the entrepreneur replied that he came to listen and learn – what he does in every other conference. It’s crucial to acknowledge the talents and ideas of others, he said.

As much as he is a champion of Italian food, Farinetti was excited to try various Cantonese dishes during his stay in Hong Kong, and he is a big fan of the 852. His favourite? Boiled abalone – “a simple cuisine”, yet one that never disappoints.

Farinetti hopes to spend more time in Asia in the future: he wants to open Eataly sister stores in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai. After that, he said, the rest of the world: “All 195 nations; we want to open in the next 20 years.” Our taste buds will be ready. 

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge