ARTICHOKES
The farming area around Rome is filled with artichoke farms and this time of year there are festivals in some towns.

Sezze Romana
The first festival we went to was in Sezze Romana, an hour south of Rome by Train. It was a small festival in a hilltop town. We took our bikes on the train and as with most hilltop towns the train stop was at the bottom of the hill and the town was about 3 miles up a switchback road. The day was pretty bad with mist all day and periodic rain. It was not too bad going in the early morning but it was much colder and wet in the afternoon when we started back down the hill. We needed to be very careful on the wet roads.

The official poster for the Sagra Carciofo (Artichoke Festival).

The first thing we noticed was that every street had some form of artichoke decoration.

All the restaurants had a special lunch or dinner that was advertised which included all sorts of artichoke dishes including artichoke wine.

The King amid an artichoke display.

There was lots of stuff to eat besides artichokes and whole families were busy with making street food.

Little kids were all dressed up in costumes. Not sure what they were dressed to be. There was a kid's parade at some point.

This woman was one of several that were carrying baskets of bread.

There were lots of groups with different colored flags. A lot of towns in Italy have different areas know as contradas that have different flags. We assumed this little town also had separate contradas.

Next came a group of women `diaper heads'.

..with funny leather shoes.

The Queen at the artichoke tower.

Little kids were out playing on homemade wooden scooters like the King used to make growing up in Brooklyn.

Ladispoli
The second event was the bigger artichoke festival in Ladispoli, a seaside town about 30 minutes north of Rome by train. There had to be at least 10,000 people.



The photo is of the King and Queen in front of one of the art pieces - a horse of artichokes. It won first place in the contest for the best display.

This is an artichoke motorcycle.

.. and an artichoke airplane..

Since it is the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy that was the theme of a number of art entries.

The highlight of the festival is the fried artichokes that people walk around eating. They are made by first cutting the artichokes into small pieces and then soaking them in water with lemon. The photo shows how big the soaking tubs are. Then they are rolled in flour and then put in a big fryer.

The other photo shows the Queen with her plate of fried artichokes.

The entertainment included some Italian country western singing cowboys.

The trip to Ladispoli was combined with a Hash House Harriers run which turned out to be a lazy stroll through the crowds and a relaxing afternoon at the beach. Photo is of the group on the beach.

The hash group in front of the artichoke cowboy.