We The Italians | Italian flavors: Po Delta Rice

Italian flavors: Po Delta Rice

Italian flavors: Po Delta Rice

  • WTI Magazine #151 May 21, 2022
  • 271

In 1450, a few decades after the spread of rice throughout the Po Valley, the first documents appeared that mention the presence of this crop in Polesine, particularly in the area of the Po delta, as this crop was closely related to reclamation and was the first stage in the agricultural use of the new land. The nature of the dried soil became crucial for the crops planted in it.

The cultivation of rice was therefore important in the areas of the Po Delta to accelerate the process of using salty soil to be used from crop rotation. Towards the end of the 18th century, several Venetian patricians who owned immense estates, both drained and not, in the Po delta, began to systematically grow rice in the newly reclaimed areas in the Province of Rovigo; but it was especially in the 19th century that new middle-class owners, some of them of Jewish origin, expanded this crop on a large scale.

The reclamation process then continued during the Unification of Italy and into the first half of the 20th century.

In the Province of Rovigo and Ferrara, the land dedicated to rice fields remained high until the 1950s; floods in the 50s and 60s led to a significant revision of farm crop plans and, in the 80s, there was a considerable reduction of cultivation dictated primarily by economic problems, with a resumption in the 90s.


Riso del Delta del Po IGP is a Japonica rice of the Super fine group, consisting of the Carnaroli, Volano, Baldo and Arboreo varieties. All operations of cultivation and transformation are designed to ensure quality, traditional character and product traceability.

Thanks to the high natural fertility of the soil, fertilizers are only used when strictly necessary, while the use of authorized phytosanitary products is limited through preventive treatments, such as treating the seed before planting and appropriate management of cultivation areas through proper mowing of the and regulating the water in the paddy field.

A given field cannot be used to grow rice for more than eight years, after which other crops must be rotated for at least two years. For the drying step, only dryers that do not leave combustion residues or odours on the hust are allowed. The dried rice must have a moisture content of less than 14%.

The area

The Po Delta extends between two regions: Emilia Romagna and Veneto. The area is bounded on the east by the Adriatic Sea, on the north by the Adige River and on the south by the navigable Ferrara-Porto Garibaldi canal. The unquestionably unique profile of the Po Delta consists of soil created both by the sedimentation of the river and the work of man, which, over the centuries, has regulated the water and reclaimed the land.

The land typically used to grow Riso del Delta del Po IGP extends the extreme eastern cone of the Po valley, in areas formed by debris carried by the Po River, as well as the subsequent land transformation works that have made cultivation possible.

In particular, in the Veneto region, Riso del Delta del Po IGP is grown in the Province of Rovigo in the municipalities of Ariano nel Polesine, Porto Viro, Taglio di Po, Porto Tolle, Corbola, Papozze, Rosolina and Loreo; in the Emilia Romagna region, it is grown in the Province of Ferrara in the municipalities of Comacchio, Goro, Codicote, Lagosanto, Massa Fiscaglia, Migliaro, Migliarino, Ostellato, Mesola, Jolanda di Savoia and Berra.

Riso del Delta del Po IGP is grown in an area with basically two types of soil: in Rovigo the soil is of alluvial origin, clay loam/lime loam (“white soils”), while in Ferrara, there is a high component of peat ("black soil”). In both cases the soils are characterized by slow draining capacity and high mineral fertility, in particular potassium, so that it is sometimes unnecessary to add potassium or, in the peat soils, nitrogen.

By Consorzio di Tutela del Riso del Delta del Po with MiPAAF