Vialone Nano is one of the most highly valued risotto rice varieties in Italy.
It was created back in 1937 by an engineer of the name of Sampietro at the experimental rice-growing laboratory in Vercelli as a cross between the Vialone and the Nano varieties. Starting from 1945, it become more and more widespread in Verona province. Unlike other varieties, Veronese Vialone Nano is of Japanese origin and was apparently introduced to Italy by merchants, who, like Marco Polo, made long journeys to the Far East to import local products.
Its grain is short and rounded in shape, which places it in the Italian category of medium-grain varieties. With regard to its use in cooking, it is unquestionably one of the most versatile rice varieties on the market, since it lends itself to a wide number of recipes.
Thanks to its high capacity for absorbing liquids and remaining firm to the bite after lengthy cooking, it is particularly suitable for preparing risottos.
The main characteristic of San Bernardino Vialone Nano rice lies in the way it is farmed, immersed in resurgent water, similarly to East Asian paddy fields.
For this reason, there is a well-defined geographical area (PGI) which, owing to its geological characteristics, lends itself to this type of production. It comprises some municipal districts of the area known as the Bassa Veronese, around Isola della Scala and Vigasio, which form the centre of the PGI zone. Here, in fact, there are numerous natural sources in which water collects between the clay layers and emerges in marshlands, often protected by wildlife reserves, owing to their remarkable biodiversity.
Thanks to the efforts of the consortium founded at Isola della Scala (VR) in 1979 to safeguard Vialone Nano Veronese Rice, this variety – the only example of its kind among Italian rice cultivars - obtained European P.G.I. (Protected Geographical Indication) certification, whose regulatory norms stipulate that: the processed grain should be of medium size, round in shape and semi-long with pronounced tooth and rounded section. It should appear white in colour, without streakiness, and display an extended pearlescent core.