The history of the Carnival Cenci

Music, dance and costumes are not the only protagonists of Carnival. At least not in Italy. Here we find another star, golden color, friable, rectangular and full of sugar. Can you guess what it is? We are talking about the Cenci, which is also known as “Bugie” in Liguria, “Frappe” in Rome, “Galani” in Veneto, and “cròstoli” in Friuli.

The origins of this sweet delicacy date back when the ancient Romans used to celebrate the Saturnalia, a festival very similar to the Carnival we know today. In that period, when the banquets and popular feasts were usual, the frictilia, sweet fried in pork fat, were very popular, distributed to the crowd in the streets of the city. The taste was so good that it has gone through centuries and is still a success today, a delicacy not to be missed in the Carnival celebrations.

That’s why we are sharing the recipe with you! It’s the number 595 of the “Science in the kitchen”, the bible of the cooks written by Pellegrino Artusi.



240 g of flour

20 g of butter

2 eggs

20 g of sugar

A pinch of salt and a spoon of vin santo liqueur



Once the ingredients of the Carnival Cenci have been mixed, it must result in a “rather firm” dough to be worked a lot with the hands and left to rest for a while.

The dough should then be rolled and divided into strips with a wheel.

In these strips, some incisions must also be applied so that they can be folded and twisted.

Cooking is done in oil or lard.

Once ready, the Carnival Cenci should be drained and when they are no longer hot, do not forget to sprinkle them with plenty of powdered sugar.

There is also a baked version, certainly not suggested by the Artusi, but which meets the needs of the more fitness ones.

Comments (4)

  1. Cindy Reply

    Thank you, I really enjoy your newsletter.
    It is very informative reading, and I love learning about your culture to share with others.

    Cindy Bobbera
    Ciao Travel

    1. Maria Rita Bellini Reply

      Grazie Cindy: I’m so glad you appreciate it! It’s really a nice way to know a bit more about Florence and our culture!
      Maria Rita Bellini
      General Manager

  2. Maria Rita Bellini Reply

    Grazie Cindy, thanks a lot for your kind words. I followed the recipe and I prepared the “cenci” for my very first time. So much fun!
    Maria Rita Bellini
    General Manager

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