Between Emilia Romagna and Veneto

The Po Delta


The Po Delta is the set of river branches that from Monviso and through the Po Valley lead the Po into the North Adriatic Sea. Since 1999 the Po Delta has been included by UNESCO in the List of World Heritage Sites of Italy as an extension of the recognition given to the city of Ferrara in 1995. The unique profile of the Po Delta is characterized by a surprising landscape where nature, history, tradition and culture intertwine. The territory, created both by the slow sedimentation of the river and by the regulation of water and land reclamation over the centuries, is associated with protected natural areas such as the Po Delta Park. It is an area with unique environmental and ecological characteristics that embraces environments rich in biodiversity: from wetlands to pine forests, from brackish water to freshwater.

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Where the river meets the Sea 


There is a close link between the excellent nutritional characteristics of Po Delta Rice PGI and the area of cultivation that stretches between Emilia Romagna and the Veneto region: the particular climate, combined with the alluvial nature of clayey-silty and peaty soils, promote the growth of rice and guarantee its high quality. The ecosystem of the Po Delta, nestled within the Po Delta Park, is a unique biosphere in the world: a pristine environment where the river Po flows into the Adriatic Sea and the particular combination of freshwater and saltwater gives Po Delta Rice PGI specific organoleptic properties that make it a unique and unrepeatable product.

The main peculiarities of the territory are determined by the proximity to the sea and by the weaving of the land: both those in the area of Ferrara and those in the area of Rovigo are endowed with a great mineral fertility and characterized by a high salinity that gives to the rice a particular aroma and  flavor. The proximity to the sea creates a microenvironment favorable to the cultivation of rice: the constant ventilation of the rice fields by winds and breezes, and the lower relative humidity resulting from it, allows to keep the plant drier and consequently healthier. This climate, characterized by limited temperature variations both in winter and in summer and by a generally well distributed rainfall, favors a constant growth of the plant obtaining a slow and regular ripened rice seed, therefore more resistant. The deep and essential link with its area of origin contributes to making Po Delta Rice PGI “one of the most valuable rice, if not the most precious in Italy”.

A centuries-long history

"one of the most valuable rice, if not the most prized in Italy"

In the new millennium, the organization of the rice growers from Ferrara and Rovigo lays the foundations to begin the process of applying for the quality mark, which will be reached in 2009 when Po Delta Rice obtains the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) by the European Union. In 2012, the Rice Growers Association of the Po Delta will become the Consortium for the Protection of Po Delta Rice PGI, recognized by the Ministry of Agricultural Policy as the only institution responsible for protection, promotion and enhancement of the precious grains that grow in the territory of the Po Delta.

The twentieth century is a troubled, yet significant century for rice. Its qualities are certified in 1950 by a statement of the Head of Department of the Agricultural Inspectorate of Venezie, Dr. Viscardo Montanari: “Rice is the most suitable crop, the real reclamation of the marsh, the means to transform the land, make it more suitable for other herbaceous crops, in a word, more fruitful […] The rice that is produced in this area is, by intrinsic qualities, among the most valuable, if not the most prized in Italy“. The disastrous floods of the 1950s and 1960s put a severe blow to the spread of rice cultivation, which only resumed in the ’90s.

Between 1700 and 1800 important Venetian families, landowners, started further reclamation works in order to achieve the extension of the rice fields throughout the territory of the Po Delta, contributing to the enhancement of these areas still hovering between land and water. Rice production techniques are also updated with new systematic agricultural methods.

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The first official document on rice dates back to 1475 in which Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, sent a precious load of 12 sacks of rice to Ercole I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, decanting its virtues. The choice of the Este family to invest in the cultivation of rice is providential: the new soils, together with the climate, are particularly suitable to accommodate the fine white grains.

Over the centuries, on the streams of the Po Delta, a strip of sand was created where stands the magnificent Abbey of Pomposa, a Benedictine religious building dating back to the VI-VII century. The Benedictine monks gave the peasants the lands surrounding the religious building, tearing them from the waters of the swamp to convert them into fertile land to cultivate. The monks were the first to know the therapeutic properties of rice coming from the East, and it seems that already in the years of full activity of the Abbey there was a first cultivation of rice by monks.

The fortune of the Po Delta Rice PGI is linked to the water, being in close contact with the fresh waters of the Po river and with the healthy salt water of the Adriatic Sea.