What country is the largest producer of rice in Europe?
Stretching across the north of Italy in the Po River basin is a vast rice and corn belt, with the result that risotto and polenta are as customary as pasta. Piedmontese risottos made with rich meat broth, wild mushrooms, and arborio rice grown locally are fantastic with a glass of Barolo or barbera. Italy is the largest producer of rice in Europe with a total of 543,600 acres (220,000 hectares) cultivated. The crop is grown mainly in Piedmont (the largest source), Lombardy, and the Veneto. Roughly 80% of EU rice production takes place in Italy and Spain. European rice-growing areas resulted from the drainage of swampy regions in preparation for agriculture. Often planted as a “pioneer crop,” rice would leach excess salt from the soil, making it suitable for other crops such as grapevines and grain crops.