Surrounded by an uncontaminated nature reserve and far from thoroughfares, only quality rice is cultivated in the agricultural territory Riserva San Massimo.

The soil on which the agricultural enterprise San Massimo stands – a cove of the Ticino river that changed its course over the years – turned out to be extraordinarily fertile. In the whole area a very rich, peaty soil can be found, that develops from vegetative remains and microorganisms. Due to the water’s acidity they don’t corrode completely, thus keeping the soil so fertile that it does not need a lot of manuring. Only in rare cases organic substances (grape marc, green manure and other vegetal materials) are used as a supplement.

The essential protection of the biodiversity and of the traditional means of cultivation that are used inside the Riserva San Massimo, evidence that the conservative measures, implied by the communitary agricultural politics, are complied. But already before the Antonello family – for decades owner of the reserve – made this demanding but gratifying choice, it dedicated itself to protecting the beauty of the place and sustaining the autoctone cultivation.  

Only a few examples for positive practices that have contributed to keeping the local biodiversity unaltered, determining thus the uniqueness of the cultivated products, are: the maintenance of the shore grasses on the fields, the deep furrows on the borderlines (that collect a water reserve which is fundamental to the life cycle of many animal species in case of drought and for the presence of frogs in the paddy fields), the crop rotation and the techniques of integrated agriculture.


  • The Riserva San Massimo is a nature reserve that extends on an area of more than 800 hectares, constituting the rarest environmental sphere of the Lombardic park of the Ticino valley.

    Agricultural fields, heathlands, an unpolluted forest full of karst springs and fontanili (a kind of small stagnant water) as well as paths lined with indigenous fruit trees create the impressive variety this unique landscape has to offer. It is the cradle of a biodiversity in which also the wild fauna has found its ideal habitat.

    Thanks to the variety of the ecosystem it hosts, the nature reserve became Site of Community Importance (SIC) in 2004 and was subsequently declared Special Protection Area (ZPS). The Riserva San Massimo represents an extremely important ecological path inside the Ticino park: it is part of the natural territory in which the continuity between different habitats favours the genetic exchange between the plant species and the fauna’s migration and thus the conservation of the biodiversity.

    In this context acacia and mixed-flower honey as well as the rice of Riserva San Massimo are produced. A Carnaroli Autentico of the highest quality, cultivated exclusively in the nature reserve from the best, 100% Carnaroli certificated, seeds.

    The rice received the blue label of Parco Ticino – Produzione Controllata which identifies producers that use eco-friendly agricultural techniques.

    The honey, that is produced seeking the same green standards, has a limited availability: avoiding the exploitation of the bees, the major part of the honey is left for them to nourish on in the beehive. 

    The uniqueness of this place is also confirmed through the presence of a significant number of critically endangered animal and plant species. This caught the attention of regional authorities and the University of Pavia. For years Riserva San Massimo welcomes scholars from the university’s science and environmental department that come here to study the fauna, particularly for understanding how to treat and preserve them.