I remember the first time I had an artichoke, many years ago: It was steamed, and we pulled away the leaves, and sucked the soft flesh from the leaf bases, discarding the rest, until we got to the artichoke hearts. This isn't the Italian way, nor are instructions I have seen that call for trimming the tips of the leaves with shears particularly Italian. Rather, Italians begin with a fresh artichoke of the kind shown here, stem and all.
This particular artichoke is a fine example of a cultivar called Morellino, and has long, sharp spines on the ends of the petals. It's important to get rid of them all.