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Italy is Europe's largest producer of rice. The wetlands and cool temperatures of the Lombardia region harbor ideal conditions for growing the special rice. Over the centuries, resourceful Italians developed a unique cooking technique combining rice with other ingredients common to their area, resulting in the classical Italian dish known as "risotto". The key ingredient for authentic risotto is Arborio rice. Arborio's characteristics and cooking properties allow it to absorb the flavors and to retain a certain firmness through the unique "risotto" cooking procedure.