The great plain south of Verona is called Bassa Veronese. This is the area in which the rice, Riso Vialone Nano Veronese is grown, a rice which has had Protected Geographical Indication recognition since 1996.
Here we can follow a very worthwhile route, with points of interest that regard landscape and history, but also the culture and cuisine.
In this area, the spring and well waters are abundant and combined with the extensive and endless rice fields, all make for a highly evocative landscape. This is an areathat has been appreciated as far back as the Neolithic period and over the centuries, has been under a number of different rulers: inhabitants of Veneto, Celts, Romans, the Republic of Venice and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
It is in this past that today's artistic and cultural riches have their origin. Going through Gazzo Veronese, it is possible to visit the Prehistoric Museum (tel. 0442579000) and the Busatello wetlands, a natural protected oasis, covered in cane thickets and the dwellings of various bird species. In Cerea, in the Villa Dionisi, we find the Museo dell'Artigianato (Crafts Museum- tel. 044280555) together with the Romanesque church of San Zeno.I n SorgÓ, near Villa BrÓ, we canfind the Museo della CiviltÓ Contadina(Peasant Society Museum- tel. 0457920006), VillaGrimani and the Villa Bogoni, dating back to 1460.
But the uncontested ruler of these areas is without a doubt the rice-Riso Vialone Nano Veronese, which is found in Isola della Scala, its home and headquarters of the RiceConsortium. This rice can be prepared in the most ancient and delicious ways,such as the famous Risotto all'Isolana, which should be accompanied by a glassof Soave Doc. Then in autumn, with the Rice Fair, la Fiera del Riso, it is also possible toparticipate in tasting and cooking competitions dedicated to this grain.
Still in Isola della Scala, we recommend a visit to the Villa del V˛ andthe church, Chiesa della Bastia. Just beyond the village, along the course ofthe River Tartaro, we find a guard tower, erected long ago on an island andconnected to dry land by two drawbridges.It marks the beginning of an itinerarythat could be defined as that of the Castles of the Della Scala family, due tothe great number of them in this area.
Passing through the ward of Salizzole,we can admire two high square towers, the remains of a Della Scala castle, built before 1300, together with the Villa Sagramoso-Campostrini-Malafatti (16th century), Villa PullŔ, Corte Busa and Villa Franceschini. Right in the centre of Sanguinetto, we find anothercastle, today the site of the town's municipal offices, the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (pre- 1600s), the Oratory, l'Oratorio delle Tre Vie or the church dating back to 1747, Chiesa della Rotonda.
Not to be missed are also the Romanesque church (Ninth century) of Santa Maria di Erbedello a Erbe' and the small fortification, la Bastia di Nogarole Rocca.
Making sure not to leave out any artistic points of interest, the other official areas of production of the Riso Vialone Nano Veronese - according to regulation, and other than those already mentioned in our itinerary, are: Mozzecane, Vigasio, Trevenzuolo, Nogara, Buttapietra, Concamarise, Casaleone, San Pietro Di Morubio, Bovolone, Roverchiara, Isola Rizza, Oppeano, Ronco all'Adige, Pal¨, Zevio e Povegliano Veronese. It should also be emphasized that this environment is very agricultural, thanks to a great quantity of high quality production of: apart from rice, melons, strawberries, cabbage, asparagus, soy bean, maize, corn, and tobacco.
Among the farming activities, there is also livestock- here cattle, pigsand poultry are raised- giving life to a land rich in heritage, thanks to the construction of castles, huge villas, immense rural courts and abbeys.
Altogether this is a very worthwhile itinerary not only for the eyes, but also for the palate.