MILAN, July 24 (Class Editori) – The Lantern Festival, the biggest event about the Chinese culture ever organized, will take place for the first time in Italy at FICO Eataly World, turning Bologna into the capital of a cultural encounter between Italy and China, as never before. The event is scheduled from Saturday 27th July, opening at 7 pm, and is organized in collaboration with Open Gate China, which for years has been committed to promoting relations between Italy and China.
The event's official inauguration is scheduled for Thursday, August 1st at 7.00 pm, in the presence of Italian and Chinese institutions. The main Chinese associations in Italy and, from China, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) will take part in the event.
“It is a union between two countries that will see as protagonists over 80 sculptures and light installations, monumental works able to reach even twenty meters high, amazing and handmade by artisans who came directly from China: worked and painted by hand, inspired from legends and myths of China's ancient culture. The sculptures will guide the visitor into a city of lights, a journey into the Imperial China plunged into a huge show,” explained the organizers.
After having enchanted 250,000 visitors in France, the Lantern Festival will capture the Italians in the atmosphere of the imperial city of the Silk Road. The Lantern Festival has its roots in an ancient tradition, born in the province of Sichuan during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), where the art of building large paper lanterns has spread over the centuries, a custom today imitated and repeated throughout China. However, the fame of the Zigong lanterns is as unique as the beauty of the works and the skill of the local artisans.
Luo Qiang, the mayor of Chengdu – capital of the Sichuan Province, one of the most dynamic cities of China visited FICO in preview with Virginio Merola, mayor of Bologna, Tiziana Primori, CEO of FICO Eataly World, Andrea Segré and Alessandro Bonfiglioli, chairman and general secretary of the FICO Foundation, Marilena Pillati, deputy mayor of the Municipality of Bologna, Marco Toson, chairman of OpenGate China and the director of Business Aviation of Bologna Airport.
The first year that FICO opened, the largest park dedicated to food in the world, closed on November 15th, 2018, with 2.4 million total visitors, slightly lower than forecasts, which aimed at a number between 2, 8 and 3 million visitors for a turnover of around 50 million euros. “Foreigners were 20%, up from the initial 6-7%, the Bolognese 30% and in many cases come back after the first time, while the average receipt is around 18 euros,” explained Tiziana Primori, which aims to 4 million visitors this year and then reach 6 million by the fourth year.
The most frequent visitors after Chinese, were French, Russians, Germans. “The Chinese are attentive and interested consumers. Certainly the most famous Italian dish abroad, after pizza and Tiramisu, is spaghetti alla bolognese, which in China are soy-based,” explained Tiziana Primori, who a year ago signed a deal with a Chinese tour operator to bring 30 thousand visitors from China to Bologna.
Primori has long been cultivating the option of opening FICO China, smaller than the one in Bologna but equally attractive. In this sense he signed a preliminary agreement with the Chinese River Side investment fund, preparatory to the realization of the project which, according to the feasibility study, should occupy an area of about 5 hectares, half of the one that houses the “parent company” in Bologna.
The location could be Nanchino using the supply chain format and presenting itself not only as a large shopping center specialized in Italian food, but above all as a didactic center with numerous supply chains on the origin of food products, where to explain the products of Italian food and wine from their birth in the mother earth to the edible final product.
According to the last three surveys conducted by Nomisma on the income generated by FICO, the last of which organized at the beginning of November, among the tourists who visited the Park, about 600 thousand people stopped to visit the city of Bologna. Overall, according to Nomisma, the Park generates a direct income for the city of Bologna of 23.1 million. The 150 companies that have contributed to creating the Park and the 100 companies specializing in food from all over Italy, from Sicily to Trentino, employ approximately 900 people.
FICO is the countryside in the city, a structure in the outskirts of Bologna that houses two hectares of fields, 200 animals, over 40 farms, 45 food courts, 6 classrooms, 6 large educational rides, a conference center, a theater, a cinema, many shops and a market, where 900 people are permanently employed.
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