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Carnival or Carnevale is one of Italy’s oldest festivals and covers the two weeks before Ash Wednesday when Lent starts. During this time, the whole country comes to life with colour and music and the streets are filled with people celebrating the occasion throughout every region of Italy.

The origin of Carnevale is said to have begun in Ancient Rome. The festival is held to mark the beginning of Lent and is a chance for people to indulge in wonderful food and drinks before the forty-day fasting period begins.

There truly is no better place to spend this time of year than in Venice. Carnevale di Venezia is one of the most popular carnivals around the world and attracts both Italians and tourists alike. While the origin is unknown, legend says that it began in 1162 in celebration of a military victory for the Venetian Republic when Venetians danced and celebrated their victory. Venetians had previously concealed their identities by wearing masks, but these parties were the only time in which lower- and upper-class citizens could meet without the divide of their social classes. The costumes and masks have remained to this day and are spotted everywhere in the city as events take place on the piazzas and canals of Venice. It is a completely unique experience and you need to experience it at least once in life!

The highlights of the festival are of course the floats and masks which allow people to get as creative as possible, although there are certain masks such as the bauta which are both extremely popular and recognisable, many of which are made by local artists. The atmosphere alone drives crowds of people from all over the world to dress up and attend an array of spectacular events from parades and masquerade balls to historical re-enactments that are put on show up and down the streets.

If you are lucky enough to attend Carnevale in Italy, you simply have to try the delicious treats that make the celebrations so special. Chiacchiere are sweet deep-fried pastry fritters traditionally eaten during Carnevale. The word chiaccherie translates to chatter or gossip which comes from the crunching sound made when taking a bite. Sweet dough is rolled and cut into individual ribbon shaped strips, deep fried until golden and dusted with icing sugar to create this popular sweet snack.

Chiacchiere have many different names throughout Italy depending on the region. They are known as frappe in Rome, cenci or donzelle in Tuscany, or sfrappole in Emilia-Romagna. While you can add different toppings to Chiacchiere, we serve ours with either dark chocolate or zabaione in our restaurants. Our Chiacchiere are also available to take away from our delicatessens in Soho, King’s Cross and Marylebone during Carnevale.

Our Chiacchiere will be available for takeaway in our delicatessens in Soho, King’s Cross and Marylebone as well as with dark chocolate for eat-in in our restaurants in King’s Cross and Marylebone from the 6th until the 21st February included.

Why not try your hand at making your very own Chiacchiere? Find our Chiacchiere Recipe right here.