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  • Writer's pictureStefania Gioia

A Place for Radicchio Lovers

In Treviso, the family farm Torre d’Orlando produces a precious variety of Italian chicory, the radicchio tardivo. Legends, traditions and recipes linked to this vegetable are part of Veneto’s heritage.

Stefano Dotto represents the fifth generation of a sharecropper’s family that, after about a hundred years in the service of a single landowner, in 1966 was able to redeem the land.

Young, yet competent and enthusiast, he’s proud to assist his father Giovanni in the production of radicchio tardivo, that since 1975 became the farm’s specialty.

According to a local proverb, the red Italian chicory is a gift from fall to winter season, in order to brighten up the barren fields. Legend has it that its seeds were carried by migrant birds and spread on the belltower of Dosson, a small village close to Treviso. There, some friars picked and planted them.

Actually, the vegetable started to grow in the same area around XVI century. Our ancestors, that in poverty used to harvest spontaneous herbs and vegetables before the winter’s frosts, realized that this plant, in the barn’s warmth, was growing further. Around 1860, the Dutch botanist Francesco Van den Borre studied the phenomenon and refined the “whitening” technique, which is currently used by modern producers. The chicory is harvested, cleaned, gathered into bunches or put into cages, then immersed in large baths of spring water for about 20 days. Once ripened, the vegetable is cleaned till it shows the white, oblong, crunchy and precious leaves.

Focused mainly on this variety, Torre d’Orlando farm grew significantly in a few decades, improving production technology, expanding its market to other Italian regions and to European countries such as Germany and U.K., where radicchio tardivo is a certified and protected vegetable.

Other varieties, like radicchio precoce, variegato, rotondo and rosa goriziana are equally cultivated and available at the farm’s point of sale. From 2010 it is possible to have a guided tour of the factory, taste some local specialties at the family restaurant, enjoy the cellar’s wines and the radicchio-based grappa and amaro and even find accommodation at the farmhouse for a rural vacation.

The red chicory, a largely used ingredient in the cuisine of Veneto, gives its slightly bitter taste to some of the most important local recipes, like risotto al radicchio, radici e fasioi, when cooked with beans, radicchio al forno, when baked, and many others.

Located just a few minutes both form the beautiful Treviso center and the verdant Prosecco hills, the farm certainly deserves a visit.

Have a Glass in Venice is glad to include it into its Prosecco food and wine tours off the beaten paths.

For more info visit:

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