From food Carnival of Venice viewpoint, the annual masquerade festival is one of the best times to visit the city of bridges.
As is the case for the carnival festivities in general, you’ll also find the most activity in terms of carnival foods from and around Piazza di San Marco.
Not only is the square filled with local delicacies, you’ll also find stalls selling regional foods (and drinks) from other areas of Italy.
There are some core foods and drinks that you should sample while in Venice during the Carnevale, including:
- Frittelle alla Veneziana,
- Cioccolata Calda, and
Of these popular carnival foods, ‘frittelle’ dessert (fritole in Venetian dialect) are sold in at least five different varieties.
The original recipe, used as a carnival food since Renaissance, was invented by Bartolomeo Scappi, Pope Pius V’s personal chef.
To experience the Venetian version of this traditional dessert, buy ‘alla Veneziana‘, which contains sultanas and pine nuts.
These were historically only available (due to the historical high price of baking them) to the Venetian upper classes, but now sold throughout the city…
…including ‘Tonolo’, one of the most famous pastry shops in Venice and Italy (and which sells all the best varieties of this pastry).
Another popular version of fritole, ‘frittelle alla crema‘, has them filled with sweetened whipped cream.
Cioccolata calda, meanwhile, is Venetian hot chocolate, and popular Winter drink overall, not just for the carnival period.
A distinguishing feature of this hot drink is its thickness, verging on being a pudding, in fact.
The drink, which is served everywhere in the city during the carnivale, is not extremely sweet, and the thickness is due to the added cornstarch.
When making the drink yourself, you should emphasize the quality of the chocolate used, and many find fresh whipped cream a great addition.
Galani (‘angel wings‘), on the other hand, are popular pastries made from milk, flour, lemon zests, sugar, butter and eggs, but there are several variations that you can find from Venice.
In Italy, the pastry is also known by several other names, including chiacchiere, chiacchere, frappe, crostoli, cenci, and maraviglias.
As a pastry, the galani is crumbly, airy, thin, sweet, and crisp, made out of thin dough and shaped into ribbons, deep-fried, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
In addition to these food carnival of Venice delicacies, you should also look out for ‘cicchetti’ (also spelled “cichetti” and “cicheti”), which are small snacks served in cicchetti bars and osterie in Venice.
Typical carnivale cicchetti include
- tiny Italian style sandwiches,
- plates of vegetable / olives,
- small servings of seafood, and
- meat on top of bread or polenta.
Locally, a cicchetti is often accompanied by a glass of Venetian white wine, “ombra” (shadow).