Friday, April 13, 2012

Artichoke Festival near Rome

Preparing carciofi alla Vetrallese 
original article  “The armored artichoke honored at Ladispoli “
International Daily News, Rome,  April 28, 1979

The years go by  but thankfully somethings stay the same: 
like the Festa del Carciofo in Ladispoli.
To celebrate this annual Festival dedicated to local artichokes
 I scoured 50yearsinItaly's archives and found this vintage article full of historical carciofi trivia.  

artichoke dishes   at  the Sagra of Ladispoli 

This weekend the annual Artichoke Festival will be held in Ladispoli, 40 kilometres north of Rome along the Via Aurelia.  Why should a common vegetable rate a festival complete with music, marching bands and free cooked carciofi to all-comers?

Castello di Palo Laziale, now La Posta Vecchia hotel
Ladispoli, which is named after Prince Ladislao Odescalchi, owes its existence to the artichoke and the fields you see extending down to the sea are completely cultivated with this vegetable-the green flowers of carciofi.
 The prince’s castle can be seen in the neighboring village of Palo Laziale and it once housed the wealthy Paul Getty who installed a pay  phone to keep his guests long-distance calls to a minimum.

Today (ed. note 1979) millionaires and princes have given way to new residents: a colony of about 3,000 Russian refugees make their temporary homes in Ladispoli while awaiting their visas from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Throughout history, the delicate artichoke has been connected  with illustrious men and women. Catherine de’Medici brought them from her native Florence when she went to France as queen and at the wedding feast of her friends the Marquis of Loménie and Mlle. De Marigue in 1576 she almost died of an indigestion having gorged herself on her favorite dish-artichoke hearts cooked with roosters’ combs and livers in Marsala wine sauce.
Jefferson's  notes about crop rotation  at Monticello 

Thomas Jefferson discovered this flower-like green during his diplomatic missions to Paris and  had them planted in his gardens at Monticello upon return to the new United States. It was an Italian, Philip Mazzei, his friend, confidant and neighbor  who supplied him with the seeds.

gardens of Monticello 
Menus of banquets and special dinners throughout history mention the artichoke as an important entreé. At a luncheon honoring the Czar Nicholas II of Russia at the Eliseo Palace in 1896 the French offered, “artichoke hearts creole style”  along with venison and pine nuts, chicken supreme with truffles, lobster, pheasant, foie-gras,  truffles in champagne, the lot washed down with six different wines.

The artichoke has had many admirers among the popes of past years. Monsignor Mastai Ferretti, the future Pope Pius IX, enjoyed many lunches at Piperno’s in the Ghetto in the 1830s. 

a young  Pius IX
So much did he like the carciofi alla giudia (Jewish style artichokes) that he nicknamed Piperno  “Michelangelo of the Artichoke”.    While a guest at the Franciscan monastery in Jerusalem in 1964 Pope Paul VI was served "artichoke hearts Venetian style". 

                 Fulvio's book is available with paypal directly from  my website 
terracotta  is used for some  carciofi dishes
according to Fulvio's recipe book

Copies of the book are also available at the Anglo American bookshop in Rome, Via della Vite, near the Spanish Steps.


  1. I have shared the link for this post on News From Italy's FB page for you MJ.

  2. Thanks for spreading the word Linda. I am still getting most comments on FB or personal emails...instead of here, even if it is now so easy to leave a comment, thanks to your suggestion.
    Feedback is so important to a writer.Over 200 people worldwide are reading this daily, I think 5 or 10 would have comments to make.

  3. Fascinating Mary Jane; it’s great that there is a vegetable that is special to this area. This sounds like a true celebration of the artichoke, shame it’s such a grey, wet weekend! Christina

  4. thanks for your input Christina... from a garden expert like you it has more value. Is anything growing in your orto yet?