The Lombard rice fields, known throughout the world for its fine quality, look like a real checkered sea and are a true Lombard excellence that can be discovered by bicycle through “The Rice Routes”.
The Italian rice fields that are divided into the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto are the most important by extension and are known throughout the world for the fine qualities produced. It is precisely a checkered sea that seems to take shape when you look at the Lombard rice fields. The cultivation of Lombard rice is very ancient, it has its roots in 1400 and still stands out for production, technologies and research. Pavia and Lomellina hold the production record as they supply Carnaroli, Arborio and Vialone Nano rice to over fifty municipalities. However, more than a hundred varieties of rice are cultivated, confirming the biodiversity present in the region. Also, in the province of Milan and Mantua there are some rice fields. In an area adjacent to the river Mincio has been created the Ecomuseum of the rice field, rivers, rural landscape of Mantua, a museum space that is worth a visit.
Rice also demonstrates its notoriety from its frequent use in Lombard cuisine. Just think of the Milanese risotto, a first course based on Carnaroli rice and saffron. The variety of Carnaroli rice is characterized by a superfine rice, with a large and long grain, which is excellent for risottos, so much so that it is considered one of the best Italian rice. Among the other best-known varieties of rice we find the Originario, part of the common rice that has a short and round grain, rich in starch and not very resistant to cooking. Suitable for making soups and desserts. Finally, the Arborio and the Roma, also superfine rice.
The rice fields are not only the cradle of this traditional and ancient culture but are also the destination of real itineraries that aim to make known the characteristics of this Lombard wealth. The routes are also suitable for less trained cyclists because the difference in height is always very moderate. Some of these tours have been called “The Rice Routes” and can also be traveled by bicycle. The itineraries are mainly articulated between Milan and Pavia. Visiting these places is an opportunity to find out more about this cultural and gastronomic aspect of Lombardy. In addition, doing it by bike can give a very pleasant experience from a naturalistic point of view. Walking along the roads of the rice fields will allow not only to admire the agricultural landscape but also to see numerous water birds that usually nest and go in search of food in these bodies of water, for example herons, egrets, mallards and gurnards. In addition, it will be an opportunity to learn about local history and traditions by making some small stops and visiting farms, castles, small villages and rural churches that are located along the way. Cycling will surely stimulate your appetite, so why not stop in one of the many farmhouses or trattorias and enjoy a good risotto so you know, not only with the sight, but also with the taste, this product of Lombard excellence in addition to the many other delicacies of these areas.
You can visit the rice fields at different times of the year; however, we suggest you in spring and late summer/early autumn. Visiting the rice fields in spring is impressive because in March and April the rice fields are flooded with water to protect the seed and seedling from temperature changes. You can therefore see the rice fields submerged in water, a very different and original landscape compared to what you are usually used to seeing. In late summer, however, from the end of August to the beginning of October, we witness the maturation of the grain, the rice fields are colored an intense yellow and it is easy to meet the agricultural vehicles intent on harvesting. Landscape, fauna, comfort, traditions and good food is therefore what awaits you if you visit the Lombard rice fields, and if you decide to do it by bike, you will also experience a satisfying feeling for having chosen a green, sustainable and environmentally friendly vehicle, completely in line with the characteristics of this region.