During the Venice Carnival, the Queen of cakes is the Frittella, called in Venetian also fritole or frìtoa. The frittelle have a story which began before the XIV century: get to know it and let your Carnival in Venice will be even more sweet!
The frittelle were the ‘national sweet’ of the Repubblica Serenissima and they were made by the so-called fritoleri. In a very short time, these fritoleri became so many and so influential into the life of the city that they were enable to give birth to a corporazione (a sort of corporate association) during the XVII century.
In the corporazione there were almost 70 fritoleri. Every fritolero was in charge of producing and selling the typical Venice carnival sweets in a circumstanced area. However, he could also leave his laboratory to his sons or relatives so to preserve the art and the public selling through time.
The corporation remained active until the fall of the Republic, though the art of fritoleri definitively disappeared from the streets of Venice only in the late 19th century.
The fritole, the undisputed queen of Venetian sweets, was produced in the various streets of the city, as well as in homes and bakeries, but mostly in wooden square-shaped huts.
Even if the only real frittella remains the Venetian one (stuffed with raisin and candied peel), all over Veneto different local recipes have spread. Nowadays you can find those dipped in batter made with fruit, flowers or vegetables; in some cases with weeds and grass of the mountain, and even with rice and polenta. But, the influence of fritoe spread to other cultures, so that there is even a Jewish frittola which the Venetian Jews still prepare for the Feast of Purim.
Prices for a frìtola served at the counter range from 1,20€ to 2€ – hardly ever more than that (it’s a popular product after all). The price tag is, however, rarely an indication of quality. Some pastry shops producing excellent frìtole will be extremely cheap, cheaper than others whose frìtole are mediocre at best. Warning signs of a bad frìtola are rather to be found in the amount of stuffing (too much isn’t good); and in the state of the icing sugar (it should powdery rather than sticky). Other than that, follow this guide and you’ll be in for a real treat.
To taste these typical Venetian cakes is a must for Carnival, perhaps if you accompany it with a good hot coffee or hot chocolate to warm up the cold nights of February, or with a fresh, sparkling Prosecco, a Venetian wine ideal as an aperitif or with dessert.
You can join our Carnival Tour Secrets of Carnival with Giacomo Casanova. During this walking tour our masked guide will acquaint you with the story of Venice Carnival, then and now, learn about the history of masks and how they are made.
We end our tour whit a hot capuccino and Frittelle in a typical Caffe approx 10 mins walk from St Mark's Square.