Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fiera del Riso - Isola della Scala (VR)

In Isola della Scala, south of Verona and the center of Italian rice production, is the Fiera del Riso, a veritable temporary temple to rice in general and the many different ways of preparing risotto in particular. For five euros, one can try risotto prepared in every which way: with zucca, funghi, porchetta, and octopus; from Rome, Piemonte, Sicily, and of course, Veneto. For dessert, cakes, cookies, and pastries made of rice flour. The festival dedicates two very big tents much like Oktoberfest in Munich, complete with booths for beer, wine, spirits, and musical entertainment. Wander around, try a bowl of risotto, rest for a few minutes with a shot of grappa, rinse and repeat. Just like any sagre, Fiera del Riso is a glutton's dream and a dieter's worst nightmare, as the smell of creamy risotto wafts throughout the tents and causes minor hallucinations. The fair grounds include the usual tacky booths for product demonstrations, art installations, candy stands, and fashion boutiques, but one can ignore all that and head for the party at the booths that sell locally-made spirits by the shot glass. When you're done, head for home--with a (all but mandatory) designated driver, of course!--and dream of next year's risotto overdose...and plan a workout to burn off the week's worth of carbs you just ate in a few hours.

What: 44a Fiera del Riso
Where: Isola della Scala, about 45 minutes south of Verona
When: Until Oct 10, 2010
Tips: The town is small, so bring some cash; there may not be public transportation, so driving is the best way to get there

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