The Italian Almanac
Fantasies of a roller coaster ride in the middle of a lush Sicilian olive grove or a spin down the 60-meter-high 'Etnaland Tower' with a breathtaking view of the real-life volcano came true when the largest amusement park in southern Italy opened in Belpasso, just a few kilometres away from Catania. Local entrepreneur Francesco Russello has invested 50 million euros in the construction of the new 'Etnaland Themapark', which employs 200 people.
Built by leading companies in the sector including Italy's Zamperla and Gosetto on a thematic project by Spain's Arte Insitu and Dutch art director Hester Kloosterboer, the amusement park is divided into five areas, taking visitors from a historic voyage through an old, haunted school to high tech adventures in outer space.
'We are proud of what we did, giving Sicily and southern Italy the park, a theme park which represents for its dimension, the quality of attractions, technological innovation and beauty one of the best Italian and European structures', said Russello, who also owns the Etnaland Acquapark right next to the new amusement park.
The entertainment entrepreneur built the water park, which welcomes some 300,000 visitors every year, in 2001. The two parks together are employing 500 people and have a network of around 40 hotels and B&Bs which have opened to offer accommodation to visitors.
This summer, the water park will be open during the day while the new amusement park will welcome tourists from 7.30 pm until 1 am.