Varieties of rice in the Vercelli area
farms and rice mills
in the province of vercelli
Discover the excellence of Vercelli’s rice production
A BIT OF HISTORY
An iconic plant of the south-east Asian civilisation, where it was already known in its wild variety since 3500 BC, rice reached Land reclamation and irrigation works, which are indispensable for the spread of rice cultivation, began in the 12th century with the Cistercian monks in the Grange area, and continued in the following centuries throughout the Vercelli area.
In addition to radically altering the environment and landscape, these works favoured the creation of the closed courtyard farmstead, a typical housing structure of Vercelli’s agricultural civilisation, probably of feudal origin.Rice-growing spread on a large scale in the late 19th century, mainly due to new hydraulic engineering works, such as the Cavour Canal, transforming the Vercelli countryside into a social laboratory.
The symbol of this rice-growing society is the “mondina“, the seasonal worker who cleans the rice fields and plants the new rice plants. This figure was also a protagonist in the social struggles that led to the eight-hour working day in 1906, and was also masterfully portrayed in Giuseppe De Santis’ movie “Riso Amaro”, which unfolds in the backdrop of the Veneria farmstead in Lignana and the Vercelli countryside.
TERRITORY AND LANDSCAPE
The Vercelli plain is dominated by rice cultivation. Kilometre after kilometre of rice fields makes this vast territory a fascinating and evocative environment that reveals a strong sense of balance between nature and human activity, always in perfect harmony with the passing of the seasons, which, in the rice fields, is mirrored by astonishing hazy hues of colour.
In winter, silence and the brown colour of the land at rest prevail. In the coldest months the land appears streaked with the white of frost and shrouded in the silvery grey of fog. In spring, the awakening of the rice fields is brilliant and crystal clear, like the water that floods them, turning them into an immense chessboard of mirrors reflecting the surrounding world, from clouds to mountains, from trees to the smallest blade of grass. In summer, the ripening rice seedlings colour the landscape a bright green that strengthens and energises the landscape, blending well with the blue of the sky and the fluffy summer clouds. In autumn, the ripe rice turns gold and, before being harvested, enhances the landscape with warm, magical hues.
FARMS AND BARAGGIA PDO RICE
Those who choose to visit Vercelli’s rice fields have the opportunity to come across a multitude of farms and rice mills, which have been dedicated for generations to rice cultivation and processing, immersed in unique environments rich in history. Visitors can buy and taste excellent varieties of rice and learn all the secrets of its cultivation.
The first and only Italian PDO rice is produced in the Baraggia area, on the border between the Vercelli and Biella area. Its excellence is recognised by leading Italian and international chefs who represent the highest expression of the area’s great rice-growing tradition: Baraggia Biellese and Vercellese rice. There are 28 municipalities that make up the PDO production area, while the recognised rice varieties are 7, precisely, Arborio, Baldo, Balilla, Carnaroli S. Andrea, Loto and Gladio.
FARMS AND RICE MILLS OPEN FOR VISITS
Farms and rice mills can be contacted to organise guided tours and tasting sessions by appointment