Carnival foods to try in Italy

Every true Italian has the Carnevale season in their biological clock. And the clock starts counting down the days to this cheerful season from the beginning of January.

I remember as a small kid at my Italian elementary school in Rome, we would all dress up for Carnevale. All my friends who were born in February would celebrate their birthdays with a Carnevale-themed party and I would always think they were the luckiest people on Earth. Not only were the parties super fun, the food was amazing too! Imagine little kids running around in their costumes with icing sugar all over their faces!

Carnevale sweets to try in Italy
My best friend, my sister and I dressed up for Carnevale
Carnevale sweets to try in Italy
Carnevale party when I was in elementary school

That’s right, you can’t be Italian and not have some delicious Carnevale food from January to February. If you go around any Italian city after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, you’re going to start seeing all those Carnevale foods in every possible grocery store. If you’re around Italy in this wonderful time of year, then you should definitely try out these foods, which happen to be some of my all-time favorite sweets!

Frappe al forno al cioccolato

I am not a huge fan of sweets, but this has got to be one of my absolute favorite sweets of all time. Frappe al forno al cioccolato are simply oven-baked frappe covered in dark chocolate. And they are so delicious. When it’s Carnevale season, the grocery store under my house has THE BEST ONES I have ever tasted. And I always order them and spend my time binge eating frappe in front of my computer or while watching tv. It’s like my replacement of popcorn. Not so good in terms of calories, super good in terms of happiness.

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Frappe fritte con zucchero a vela

You know when you go to a restaurant and end up ordering too much food? And then you leave some of the food on your plate … and when you get home you end up craving it, wishing you had finished it? That’s how you’re going to feel with frappe. If you don’t over-eat them during Carnevale season, you’re going to end up hating yourself for it. What are frappe exactly? Unlike the oven-baked chocolate ones I mentioned above, these frappe are fried and then sprinkled with icing sugar. Sound yummy? IT IS! They’re made with a thin sheet of dough, flour, sugar, butter and eggs.

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Imagine American-style doughnut holes. Now imagine them 100 times better. Those are what we call castagnole – or frittelle in other parts of Italy! They are a traditional Italian Carnevale sweet, and they are small, round cake balls that are fried and sprinkled with sugar. The outside is crispy, the inside soft and D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. You have to get yourself a handful of castagnole, and trust me, a handful won’t be enough!




I'm the daughter of an Italian family of diplomats, the second of three children, and a global citizen. I've lived in 7 cities around the world, I have a gigantic crush on Italy and my name has been mispronounced more times than I can remember.

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