Carnevale is a holiday that is celebrated the day before Lent starts. Lent traditionally being a period of subdued frugality, the day before represents a last hurrah for merriment and indulging. People wear costumes or masks and there are parades and parties.
In Italy, Carnevale at large is basically like Halloween here in the US, as far as kids dressing up in costumes goes. The more traditional and famous Carnevale celebrations are particular to Venice and Viareggio and last much longer than just a day.
And now we come to the indulging part of Carnevale, the part where we get to talk about all of the amazing culinary specialties associated with this holiday.
When we talk about typical treats, for Carnevale it is all about sweet and fried.
Frappe (aka bugie, cenci, chiacchiere depending on where in Italy you are) – deep-fried pastries with a sprinkling of powdered sugar
Castagnole – little dough balls topped with sugar
Frittelle – small, soft, fried pancakes
Ciambelle – traditional donuts
So for Carnevale, you basically walk around in a costume or a mask all day, whilst eating all manner of fried sweets. All in all, not a bad way to spend a day.
And don’t worry, there’s still time to plan a trip to Italy for this year’s Carnevale on Tuesday February 26th…your stomach will thank you.