The Asti Sorì Artichoke owes its name to the specific conditions in which it is cultivated: Sorì is a Piedmontese word that refers to the side of a hill exposed to the sun (the southeast-, south-, or southwest-facing slope), which is where the best vineyards are located, and which is also an ideal place to grow typical Mediterranean plants such as artichokes. This particular variety is cultivated on the hills of Asti between the Tiglione, Belbo, and Tanaro rivers.
Asti Artichokes are first mentioned in the late 15th century in some of the farces written by Giovan Giorgio Allione in the local vernacular; they appear in the context of the festion d’archicioc, “artichoke festivals” held to honor guests from outside the region. In the first half of the 17th century, Asti artichokes became known throughout Piedmont and appeared in the writings of Francesco Agostino Dalla Chiesa, a bishop and historian from Saluzzo.
The Asti Sorì variety produces elongated, oval-shaped artichokes without spines, and with a slight depression at the tip. The bracts (the edible “leaves” of the artichoke) are closed tightly together and are of an ashy green color with purplish veins. The plants are vigorous, growing to a height of 150 centimeters and producing up to 10 flower heads.
The artichokes are planted in well-drained soil and are replaced every 8-10 years via the traditional vegetative propagation method, which uses the carducci, or basal shoots, to grow new plants. Artichoke plants have a hardy rhizome from which new shoots and, subsequently, new flower heads develop. The autumn rains awaken and activate the rhizome’s buds, and the new shoots (the carducci) become increasingly vigorous as the weeks pass. The carducci are thinned in a process called scarducciatura in October and in March, with only the three most vigorous shoots being left. The others are either used in the kitchen or kept for vegetative propagation at a later time.
The harvest of the artichoke heads, which is done manually, begins in late spring and continues in stages until June. The Asti Sorì is a rustic artichoke variety that does not require pesticides. It is given organic fertilizers and, when possible, cover crops are planted in the artichoke plots.
The artichokes themselves are sweet and tender, and can be prepared in various ways (preserved in oil, fried, added to risotto), although the best way to fully enjoy their qualities is to eat them raw. The stems and leaves are also edible, as are the tender carducci harvested in the spring.
The harvest takes place in stages: The primary flower heads are usually collected in May, and the secondary heads are collected gradually until early June.
The Presidium was created to give economic, gastronomic, and historical value back to the Asti Sorì Artichoke and to increase the number of producers willing to grow this variety using agroecological methods.
The area of the Asti hills between the Tanaro, Belbo, and Tiglione rivers, as well as some adjacent villages in Asti Province.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Policies
The Asti Sorì Artichoke Presidium is financed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies, Directorate-General for the Third Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility – notice n° 1/2018 “Slow Food in azione: le comunità protagoniste del cambiamento”, pursuant to article 72 of the Third Sector code, of legislative decree 117/2017.
di Stefano Scavino
Strada Case Valle, 30
Costigliole d’Asti (At)
Tel. +39 347 7566595
di Patrizia Onesti
Regione Mariano, 35 E
Tel.+39 333 3626706
di Valter Cauda
Strada Albera, 12
Castel Boglione (At)
Tel. +39 329 5653803
Via Pontetto, 4
Tel.+39 327 3805893
Frazione Variglie, 69 Asti
Tel.+39 349 5576228
Strada San Michele, 6
Costigliole d’Asti (At)
Tel. +39 366 3306613
Via Nisorella, 3
Tel. +39 335 5292629