Hidden treasures

History of the Queen of Venice Carnival: Frittella!

Local Traditions

History of the Queen of Venice Carnival: Frittella!

It is Carnival time...and what could be better than biting into a soft and tasty Venetian frittella?

Frittella, ‘fritoea or fritola’ in dialect, is the king sweet of the Venice Carnival and has always been considered the national dessert of the Serenissima Republic.

During the Carnival period, the windows of all the pastry shops from Venice to the gates of Milan are a celebration of frittelle of all kinds: they can be filled with cream, zabaione (Marsala-flavored egg-cream), chocolate, pistachio or raisins ... but what is the history of this amazing sweet?

The history of frittelle dates back to the second half of the 14th century and their recipe is one of the oldest preserved in the Canatense Library in Rome. Then there is a Renaissance version of the ‘fritoea’ which was included in Bartolomeo Scappi's cooking notes present in a number of documents at the Correr Museum in Venice.

In the past, this Venetian fritter was produced exclusively by fritoleri, who formed a corporation in 1600 to safeguard the exclusivity and official nature of their craft: there were seventy members, each based in their own area where to they carried out their profession in an exclusive way, with the guarantee that only their children could succeed them, thus passing on this precious art from father to son for generations. This activity only ended in the late 19th century.

The frittella was so well known and appreciated that it is present in various arts and literary works. One of the most famous examples is the painting by Pietro Longhi, now preserved in Ca ’Rezzonico, which depicts ‘The seller of frittole’ offering a nobleman her sweets on a skewer.

Even Carlo Goldoni talks about the frittella in his Commedia ‘Il Campiello’, whose protagonist, Orsola, is precisely a fritolera!

Both works offer evidence of how established and common in everyday life was the figure of the fritolero, who used to knead the dough sweets in the squares and streets, frying them and coating them with plenty of sugar.

Just mouthwatering, don’t you think? Then this is the best time to taste a good frittella in one of the many pastry shops in Venice ... and between a Venetian frittella and a cream one, experience the magic of Carnival thanks to our masquerade balls! Fun is guaranteed!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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