The Tastiest Place on Earth

Eataly's food park is slated to open in Bologna next year

Back in 2014, Italian epicurean superstore Eataly announced that it would open Eataly World, a massive dining complex and food theme park, in Bologna, Italy, on November 1, 2015. But that date came and went. Now, reps tell Eater that the project is slated to open in the middle of 2017.

The team, led by Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti, will convert 20 acres of old warehouses into 25 restaurants, 10 classrooms, a convention center, farms, labs and more. While American media has called it a "Disney World" of food, joking about rock-climbing walls of Pecorino Romano with ropes of salumi, the project sounds more akin to Dan Barber's Stone Barns—instructing visitors about biodiversity and food production—crossed with a fancy mall where shops are replaced by restaurants.

Rendering of Eataly World walkway | Photo: Courtesy of Eataly World

The aim of the project is to boost the economy through tourism, and Farinetti has said he expects it could draw between six and 10 million tourists a year. Food as the focus of a massive tourist complex is something the country is fairly well acquainted with after Expo Milano drew 20 million visitors last year.

Still, in one of Italy's top gastronomic regions, is a theme park really necessary? We're pretty sure we would be just as happy with a bowl of spaghetti alla Bolognese in an old trattoria.