Tuscans love to fry. Deep fry, that is. But not just fish and chips. In fact an Italian proverb says "fritte sono buone anche le scarpe" - even shoes taste good when deep fried. I prefer sage leaves though - picked in our garden and straight into the pan. But the most sublime thing in I can think of is a plate of deep fried artichokes in spring - best if accompanied by a glass of Italy's Franciacorta sparkling wine (but I will also put up with a dry white wine or simply Champagne).
If you have a car, skip lunch in Siena and drive through the hills of the Crete Senesi to join the crowd at Chiusure - Tuscany's Mecca for artichokes lover.
Arrive early (not after 12 pm), as parking around the small hilltop village becomes a nightmare. In fact I've just seen that the contrada della Giraffa (Siena's neighborhood of the giraffe) will be also there for lunch on Liberation Day on the 25th. Which explains the parking problem.
Four days dedicated to Tuscan wine and food pleasures, Chiusure's famous artichokes and countryside walks.
HOW TO GET THERE? Chiusure can be reached as a scenic round trip from Siena (ca. 45 minutes each way by car only). Start the drive via the road that leads to Asciano and have your camera at the ready. The hills of the Crete Senesi are at their most stunning during spring. After your lunch in Chiusure drive on towards Buonconvento, and take the time to stop over at the Monte Oliveto Maggiore abbey to pay tribute to Signorelli's and Sodoma's frescoes depicting the life of St. Benedict in the main cloister of the monastery.
The monks of Monte Oliveto Maggiore also produce their own brand of herbal teas and digestive grappa - you may want to invest in one or the other in case you've overdid it with the deep fried artichokes in Chiusure.
WHAT ELSE? Have a stroll in Buonconvento before heading back to Siena. The beautiful little town sports two great museums, which take part in the #invasionidigitali grass root movement on Saturday 27th of April. In fact another cultural invasion is planned at the Monte Oliveto Maggiore abbey on Sunday the 28th at 4 pm. So give these Italians a hand in claiming back the country's artistic beauties.