If there is one thing Italians love, it’s their food. Any excuse to go out with friends or family and eat good food is welcome. Sagre, or food festivals, celebrate one local ingredient which gets declined in a variety of dishes.

A blossomed artichoke
Yes, this is what artichokes look like when they blossom. Technically speaking when we eat an artichoke we eat a flower bud.

For a few days, the town (or local sports center) fills with food stalls run by volunteers. The food is affordable and the atmosphere cheerful.  Let’s take a closer look at the most famous Artichoke Festival in Tuscany to understand why it is worth the trip.

Artichokes on a market stall in Florence
At Italian food markets you will find lots of artichokes.

Where is the Food Festival Held?

The biggest Artichoke Festival is held in the picturesque village of Chiusure, near Asciano. This part of the region, South of Siena, called the Crete Senesi, is exactly what you envision when you picture the gently rolling hills and cypress trees of Tuscany.

The soft landscape is at times broken up by sharp grooves in the rock that look like they were gouged out by a giant knife. Chiusure sits on one of those sharp-edged hills with amazing views on all sides.

When Does It Take Place?

The little village built in the traditional Sienese style bricks livens up for the sagra del carciofo during the last week of April. Though artichokes can be found in supermarkets all year round, the best season to taste the most flavourful and tender ones is in Spring.

The town of Chiusure on a hilltop
Small villages perched on top of rolling hills are what you’ll find if you look up the word “Tuscany” in your dictionary.

This labor-intensive vegetable, a delicacy since Roman times, is the main protagonist of this food festival. The dates vary from year to year, so I recommend checking this website run by the Crete Senesi local authorities or calling Chiusure’s Pro Loco (tourist office) at this number +39 0577 718666.

What to Expect There?

Discover artichoke in all its possible declinations: soup, pasta sauce, with or without meat, and the all-time classic, fried in batter. Food isn’t the only thing on offer during the Sagra del Carciofo.

A plate full of baked artichokes
Artichokes, artichokes everywhere.

Last year, the town organized bike (e-bikes to better face the uphill battles) and horse rides in the majestic surrounding nature. There were also educational walks with a herbalist to discover what the local flora has to offer. And then, in the evenings, live music is de rigueur.

Other Artichoke Festivals

Though the Chiusure Festival is the most famous one, there are a plethora of other minor festivals dedicated to the flower-like vegetable around the same period.

If you are a true artichoke lover you might also be interested in the sagre held Riotorto, near Piombino, in Empoli, or even the famous thermal town of Montecatini. Travelers could spend the whole summer traveling from town to town and eating in one food festival or the other, tasting local ingredients along the way.

A typical crete senesi landscape
The Crete Senesi are made of clay which is precisely the meaning of the word “creta”.

Should you be curious enough to head to Chisure for the Artichoke Festival, why not take this opportunity to visit the beautiful Val d’Orcia or historical hill towns like Pienza, Montalcino, and Montepulciano. They are all within a 30 to 40-minute drive from Chiusure and the perfect place to be awed by architectural beauty and to enjoy some famous local crus.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *