Montelupone Celebrates Artichokes

How many places can boast a view of a sunrise over the sea, a view of snow-capped mountains and a lazy sunset of rolling green hills that seemingly go on forever? My guess is not many; but come to hinterland area around Montelupone (MAP) in Le Marche and you got all that plus a cute little ancient hilltop town to roam around in. If you time it right, you could be roaming around while they celebrate their annual artichoke festival, which had some pleasant little surprises for us.

Looking out of the town gates.

While trying not to sound like a travel agent selling you a holiday, Le Marche has everything. Over the 5 years of being in Italy, occasionally I would see entire trains sponsored by the Le Marche Tourism Office, blowing it’s own trumpet about just how much diversity Le Marche offers. After spending a short amount of time there to visit this artichoke sagra / celebration, I can vouch for their claim of offering all things like sailing, skiing, mountain climbing, rustic country life, summer beach holidays and of course a great culinary tradition.

Stunning surrounds.

Daily event.

Not as well known as Tuscany or Umbria to the international traveller, Le Marche easily competes as a prime destination rather than a secondary alternative. All those romantic ideas you have of Italy, well… Le Marche does a really good job at providing them.

The local goodies.

Montelupone is a small, walled town high above the farms that supply it with all the produce it needs. Naturally the local Monteluponese artichokes are what makes this town a little more distinctive to similar towns in the area. Here they’ve been growing them for generations and were one of the first towns in Italy to celebrate them, this being the 49th sagra and usually celebrated on one of the first weekends of May.

Small artichoke plantation with Montelupone on the rear hilltop.

One of the highlights for me was meeting Simeone Boccanera from Bar Gelateria Boccanera. This gelato bar sits at the top of town near the main piazza and blew my mind when I saw that they offered sorbetto alla giudea and a gelato ai carciofi. Certainly one of the most adventurous sorbet recipes to ever cross my lips, their alla giudea is a savoury sorbet, which one elderly lady tried and came back singing it’s praises and suggesting it accompany a plate of prosciutto and cheese, which it was actually designed to do. This sorbet uses all the same ingredients as the vegetable dish, in fact the artichokes are prepared as normal including things like olive oil, garlic, calamint, parsley and obviously, artichokes, then used and adapted for this sorbet.

Sorbetto alla Giudea

The ingeniuos savoury artichoke sorbet.

Simeone at the bar.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a plate of cold meats and cheeses but the accent it would give to an antipasto was clear when I tasted it. An experiment they tried and from all customer reports, a great success, and one worth pushing further, possibly as a packaged product to keep in one’s freezer and pull out to really stun some unsuspecting dinner party guests.

Piazza del Comune.

As for the Sagra, it is probably one of the best organised and least publicised events on their cultural calendar. It’s very well attended and there is plenty of food to go around all day and night. On the menu are some of the trusted favourites and some new dishes as well.

Today's menu.

Carciofi alla Giudea, Montelupone style.

The all time favourite fried artichokes.

A new favourite, baked Pasticcio.

Le Marche is somewhere I will go back to and explore a lot further and Montelupone is definitely somewhere I would go again just to try that sorbet.


Simeone at Boccanera


The Artichoke Blog

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5 Responses to “Montelupone Celebrates Artichokes”

  1. mikey says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m glad you like it and thanks so much for the pingback.

  2. […] I only scratch the surface here, but there are some good resources out there for the intrigued. For sheer amazement — and some great-looking recipes — check out Michael’s been researching artichokes for several years in Italy, where the prickly things are seemingly ubiquitous. The gorgeous varieties and preparations on the blog will blow your mind (Michael’s even stumbled upon artichoke gelato). […]

  3. […] on Share this:TwitterFacebookVind ik leuk:LikeWees de eerste om post te […]

  4. mikey says:

    Thanks Alisa, those are definitely one of the favourites and taking photos is one of the best parts about doing this blog.
    I’ve always liked your site too. keep it going. Myx

  5. Alisa says:

    Wonderful photos! I love your site and the Carciofi alla Giudea and fried artichokes look really delicious

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