Vercelli is considered Europe’s rice capital, located right in the middle of the Piedmontese-Lombard rice-growing area, and has the largest surface area planted with rice in all of Europe. A network of ancient canals—constructed from the 13th century on—brings water from the Po, Dora Baltea, Sesia, Cervo and Elvo rivers to irrigate the rice paddies. Apart from the availability of water, the soil is also particularly suitable for rice: sandy, with a medium texture, good drainage and medium fertility. The climate in the area, with cold, foggy winters and hot, muggy summers, is particularly ideal for Giant Vercelli rice, a historic variety whose name comes from the tallness of the plant. Its grains are large and spindle-shaped and remain separate even after cooking. Its productivity and yield after processing are very low, but it is a hardy variety and has a natural resistance to fungal diseases, particularly rice blast, the most serious to affect rice.
Thanks to its high content of resistant starch, Giant Vercelli rice is very nutritious, as well as being perfect for preparing risotto, thanks to the way it holds up to cooking, its ability to absorb seasonings and a good release of starch, which adds creaminess to the final dish. “Rice is born in water and dies in wine,” goes a famous saying, exemplified by panissa vercellese, a risotto made with red wine, duja salami, lardo, beans and pork rind.
The rice is sown in April and harvested between September and October. The rice is available all year round.
Listed in the historic register of varieties, in recent years it has been revived by a number of farmers who select and exchange the best seeds. The Presidium protocol specifies sowing in very spaced-out rows, weed control before sowing by mechanical means only, crop rotation, minimal fertilizing and no chemical fungicidal or insecticidal treatments.
The Presidium has been established to support these farmers, to promote the rice variety, to encourage a revival of its cultivation and consumption and to gradually involve new rice-growers in the project.
Presidium supported by
Municipality of Vercelli, Consorzio Mediolanum Vercelli 1, Sabatino, Slow Food Vercelli Convivium
gliAironi – Risi & Co
Vercelli municipality (Vercelli province)
Piazza Martiri della Liberta, 1
tel. 0161 294844 - 335 1297939
di Massimo e Maurizio Tabacchi
tel. 347 6949072
Varalda fratelli Franco e Piergiorgio
tel. 335 6005259