Celebrating the Artichoke at the Sagre
In Italy a ‘Sagra’ is a celebration of food, usually a particular food. Here is a list of artichoke sagre (plural) around Italy. These events are a real mixed bag, some much more appealing than others. Some of the larger ones in bigger towns have had a tendency to explode out of proportion. Once you manage to find parking at these events, you will find dozens and dozens of market stalls which sell nothing but cheap ‘made in China’ type junk. Many other stands have nothing at all to do with artichokes. If you can avoid those ones, the remaining few sell fresh raw artichokes or you can try plenty of artichoke dishes prepared in heaps of different ways which will make the whole experience worth it. It’s always good to remember that there will be tasty morsels everywhere at hand and usually an area to have a sit down lunch or dinner. Obviously, each town has it’s own specialty and you should never leave town without at least trying some of what locals do best.
Other, smaller, towns have more intimate gatherings and it’s the classic case of ‘less is more’. These events are usually a little out of the way so they won’t attract the hordes of people. These towns are also some of the prettiest you’ll come across and you’ll feel yourself lucky to be there. There will be no cheap useless junk for sale and you can sit down to one of the cheapest and tastiest 3, 4 or 5 course artichoke lunches or dinners you are likely to have while you sit with other food lovers and enjoy a jaw dropping view. All of these sagre / celebrations are held on weekends. Some last 3 days (starting on the Friday) some 2 days and others one day only. There a couple which run over a week but the height of the activity is almost always on the weekends.
When attempting to find out about these celebrations it’s always a little frustrating to pin the organisers down on exactly when they may be held. This information is withheld until they are organised enough to know the details themselves. Where a posting shows a past date I have left it, in order to give you an idea of what time of year you can expect it to occur in the future. Most of the links are dated and nearly all of them are in Italian but in most cases it’s the most up to date information available from the organisers. I apologise if some links are discontinued.
On one occasion I booked a car with my wife Alice, drove 5 hours, booked a hotel room for two nights, and once there, found out that the event had been postponed, roughly a month, because the unusual cold had meant that there were not enough artichokes around for them to actually celebrate with. Not one piece of information about that on any web site. So I say, better to ring ahead. You will find a phone number under most of the town names which may lead you to a person who may speak English and who may know something. No guarantees.
I have used Google maps to indicate where each place is.
LADISPOLI, north of rome
when: 17th & 18th April, 2010
SEZZE, south of Rome
when: 18th April, 2010
PAESTUM , south of Naples
when: 22nd to 25th April 2010
Pertosa, South East of Naples
when: 8th to 9th May, 2010
URI , north west Sardinia
when: 6th to 7th March, 2010
when: TBC, usually a Sunday mid May
RAMACCA, 2 hrs west of Catania, Sicily
when: 9th, 10th,11th April, 2010
NISCEMI, south of Ramacca
when: 16th – 18th April, 2010
MONTELUPONE, south of Ancona and north of Macerata, Le Marche
when: 8th & 9th May, 2010
MARINA CHIAIOLELLA, on the island of PROCIDA/ Bay of Naples
when: 23rd April 2010, but postponed to the 24th due to rain.
SAN FERDINANDO di PUGLIA, south of / near Foggia
When I went to this event I realised the difference betwwen a SAGRA and a FIERA. A sagra is where you will be eating the celebrated food, and a fiera is where you’ll, basically, be talking about it, promoting it and possibly celebrating it. Not eating it. This was the latter. Damn. So, for me, I wouldn’t go to San Ferdinando if you want to taste artichokes.
when: usually early November. This is a rare case that an artichoke fiera is held at the beginning of the season and not at the end.
Tel. – Fax : 0883 626267 | cell. 348 941227
BRISIGHELLA, between Ravenna & Bologna
when: 1st-2nd May, 2010
Brisighella tourist office; Tel. +39 0546 81166. Fax +39 0546 81166
RIOTORTO, coastal Tuscany
when: 23,24,25,28,29,30 April 1,2 May, 2010
+39 056563111 / Claudio Fornai: 056563293
TORRICCHIO – UZZANO between Pistoia & Lucca, Tuscany
when: 23,24,25,28,29,30 April 1,2 May, 2010
more info: +39 0572447735 / +39 057245135
CHIUSURE, south of Sienna, Tuscany
when: 24th & 25th April, 2010
SANT ERASMO, half hour ferry ride fromVenice
when: usually only one day (Sunday) in the first half of May
Cerda, half hour drive east of Palermo
when: 25th April, 2010
Velletri, 50 minutes train from Rome
when: 24th & 25th May, 2010
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