Unknown Italy – Lomellina Land of Rice

View of the Cascina Bovile

LOMELLINA

Typical Itinerary

WERE THE RISOTTO WAS BORN

LOMELLINA (Pavia)
If you are interested in undiscovered places, this area will appeal to you!!!

Lomellina is a small area southwest of Milan, bordered by three rivers: the Po, the Sesia, and the Ticino. Italians refer to the area as “Oltrepo Pavese” meaning on the other side of the Po River in the area of Pavia! The area is full of small villages, comprising more than 60 communes. Three of the most well known of these are: Vigevano, famous for its beautiful shoe manufacturing, along with Mortara, Pavia and Vercelli.

The name “Lomellina” comes from “Lomello (Laumellum), one of the largest and most famous areas during Roman times. Remains of its city center or “Castrum” are still evident today. You can also appreciate an excellent example of Romanico-Longobardo architecture in its Santa Maria Maggiore church. Next to the church, that has undergone various modifications over the centuries, is the baptistery of San Giovanni built in the 7th Century. Its baptismal font alone, created between the 7th and 8th centuries, is worth the visit.

Those of you who like to deepen your knowledge of Italy and want to see places where Italians go in their free time, this area is the perfect place to spend a few days. Not only is it full of history and charm, it also provides wonderful value, great food and a good selection of quality accommodations.
The land of Lomellina is famous for its rice production, a tradition that began there in the 1500s. Take a look at this Dino De Laurentiis 1949 film with Vittorio Gassmann and Silvana Mangano, available in its entirety on YouTube to get a vision of rural life here.

The economy of the entire area is still dependent upon rice production. Historically, the cultivation of rice took place in water, but it is now rapidly changing into a “dry” cultivation, which the experts claim reduces costs while still creating a product that is comparable in both quality and taste.

To learn the secrets of risotto and other rice dishes, cooking classes can be arranged in this area taught by both home cooks and professionals. The gastronomy of the Lomellina is also famous for its goose breeding and various goose preparations. It’s here that you can taste fresh goose and naturally cured goose meat prepared with local spices and herbs. The most sought-after product is its NATURAL foie-gras – which exceeds expectations in every possible way.

I would encourage you to visit the “Cascine” that once housed the agricultural workers who worked in the rice fields. These “Cascine” or farms were like miniature villages complete with a school, a church, a cemetery, a few small stores, and the small apartments and rooms where the workers lived alone or with their families. Many of the largest “cascine”, where 300-500 people once lived, are still visible as villages on current maps. These “cascine” were abandoned during Italy’s boom years of the 1960s and were later rediscovered and restored as restaurants and rural lodging facilities known as “Agriturismi”. In addition to having all of amenities of larger facilities such as air conditioning, TV, WI-FI, they often make wonderful use of products that come directly from their property and frequently offer these products for sale. It cannot get more local than that! The appealing link between the history and tradition of the past with the needs of the present is a strong attraction to selecting this type of accommodation.

Two nights are ideal to get an idea of what the area has to offer. The area is rich with history due to its location situated between Milan and Pavia and close to Piedmont where the French, under the House of Savoy, reigned. It is only 90 minutes from Milan’s Malpensa airport. It would be a good place to unwind after an international flight for a couple of days or a destination to consider before coming back to the US. It’s an easy area to navigate with excellent roads and signage

Cilavegna
Here we recommend that you focus on food rather than art – we suggest an excellent restaurant called Tenuta Molino Taverna. The Banfi family that owns it treated us with professionalism and warmth. The mother “Mamma Margherita”, after raising her own family, is now enjoying a new career cooking for guests at their restaurant. With passion and skill, her children Pietro, Costanza and Giuditta an accomplished baker, take care of the dining room. If you would like to know how to duplicate some of her risotto recipes, Mamma Margherita is the perfect teacher. With ample notice, she offers cooking instruction. I recommend Risotto con le Creste di Gallina – or Cock’s Comb Risotto. Don’t forget this tip.

Olevano Lomellina
The Cascina Tenuta San Giovanni has been in business since the 1500s and, for the most part, is in excellent condition. It is currently undergoing additional restoration. It was one of the largest of the “cascine” in the area of rice production. Today, Cristiana Sartori, the great granddaughter of the founder is taking the business to another level. In fact, as mentioned above, Cristiana is tastefully restoring the structure transforming it into a kind of University highlighting the cuisine of Lombardy. What impressed me was the size and quality of the professional kitchen she has installed to accommodate weddings and other large events large events. The Cascina’s dining room can seat more than 250 guests and there are additional rooms for smaller gatherings.

Sant’Angelo Lomelliana
There is an ancient church in Lomellina that houses important frescoes from the 15th-16th C. The church itself was built on Roman remains, which are visible along the walls of the church.

Rosasco
Due to the production of rice, this was a flourishing commercial center prior to Italy’s economic boom in the 1960s. The remains of its castle built around the year 1000 are still visible. For art lovers, there is a painting of the crucifixion attributed to the school of Tomassino da Mortara in the sacristy of the church of San Valentino.

Ceretto Lomellina
A must stop is at the Cascina Bovile where Chef Pierluigi and his wife, Roberta offer exquisite traditional dishes all prepared with ingredients from their land. Their specialty is goose prepared in many different ways including cured goose and their NATURAL Foie Gras…our lunch there was an unforgettable taste experience.

Valle Lomellina
Several recently restored frescoes from the 9th-10th C. are worth seeing in the museum of Santa Maria di Castello.

Sartirana Lomellina
Here the remains of its tower and castle can be seen. Stop at the Cascina Corte Grande where Silvia e Marco offer genuine and personal hospitality in their large Cascina that is equipped for medium meetings and congresses. The cuisine at Corte Grande is delicious prepared with all local products including the wines.

WHERE TO SLEEP

• Cascina Corte Grande – Via Roma, 25 Semiana (PV) TEL. +39 0384 82 02 72 e:info@cascinacortegrande.it

WHERE TO EAT

• Cascina Bovile – Ceretto Lomellina. Tel. +39 033456123
• Molino Taverna – Strada Vicinale della Gallina. Cilavegna (PV) Tel. 0381 969 155 e:info@molinotaverna.it – www.molinotaverna.ir

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