Post by Sylvia Poggiolo, The Salt at NPR Food (3/9/2014)
Italy has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country in the world, and its art and cultural riches have drawn visitors for centuries.
It also prides itself on being a culinary mecca, where preparing, cooking and serving meals is a fine, even sacred, art. And now that the country is in the deepest and most protracted recession since World War II, why not cash in on its reputation as a paradise for visiting gourmets and gourmands?
In late February, Oscar Farinetti, who founded the Eataly chain of food emporiums, announced a new plan to help rescue economy: "Fico Eataly World," a theme park devoted entirely to food and wine.
The project is a joint venture between Eataly and the municipality of Bologna, which is providing 86,000 square feet of land with warehouses to be transformed into food labs, grocery stores and, of course, restaurants. The price tag for the park is estimated at $55 million.