A carnevale ogni scherzo vale

door Regina Coeli

During Carnival every joke counts. That is the literal translation of the Italian saying ‘A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale’. It means that it’s allowed to play a fun practical joke on someone during the Carnival season. Every European country has its own Carnival traditions and, just as every Italian region has its own culinary speciality, so does it also celebrate Carnival in its own unique way!

Carnival from Veneto to Puglia (Venice to Apulia in English)

World famous is the Venetian Carnival in which masks and fancy dress feature prominently. Carnival in Viareggio (Liguria) is famous for its procession of decorated floats which often relate to current political events or even the politicians themselves. In the heel of Italy, in Puglia, the Putignana Carnival is also well known. It is one of the oldest carnival celebrations in Italy dating back to 1394. Here, too, decorated floats play a big part in the festivities. 

Italian culinary specialities during Carnival

The word ‘carnival’ comes from the Latin ‘carnem levare’ which means ‘take meat away/leave meat out’ and this is a reference to the day before Lent starts. Lent is the period before Easter during which no meat is eaten.

In Italy, a variety of culinary specialities are eaten during Carnival and each region has its own speciality:

  • ‘Fritole’ are eaten in Venice. These are a kind of doughnut;
  • Lombardy has the ‘chiacchiere’ which comes from the verb ‘chiacchierare (to chatter/gossip). These are deep-fried biscuits with a sugar coating. They are prepared in several regions and have different names: ‘crostoli’ in Venice, ‘sosole’ in Verona, ‘cenci’ in Tuscany and ‘frappe’ in Rome;
  • ‘Struffoli’ are prepared in Umbria. These are also a kind of doughnut covered in honey;
  • In Puglia, they serve ‘zeppole’ which are also doughnut-like but with the addition of orange peel in the mixture.

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