The Carnival of Santa Croce sull’Arno


Floats, masks and streamers : Carnival started ! In every part of the province of Pisa gives rise to spectacular parades and festivals , and every country has its own traditions . The oldest is the Carnival of Santa Croce : a genuine popular festival in which the creativity and imagination of of Santa Croce create unique masks for beauty and originality. The four masked groups ( Il Nuovo Astro, La Lupa, La Nuova Luna and Gli Spensierati ) are committed to the utmost with their sumptuous costumes covered in sequins , parading in the main square in a profusion of colors and choreography.

The parade of Santa Croce dates back to 1928 , when some villagers decided to masquerade to liven up the gray winter days . In those days there was no television and radio sets were few and a dozen or so friends led by Caesar Pacchiani did take to the streets floats and one thousand masks. At seventy years later the spirit has not changed. The tradition has been handed down from father to son , or rather, from mother to daughter in ’28 , the wagons were the great-grandmothers of the pretty girls who will dance and dance today . It is not a trivial party masks and floats but a real “show” : a swirl of glittering costumes and colors placed in sets accurate.

In 2014 the Carnival of Santa Croce will be staged on Sunday, February 16 , Sunday, February 23 and Sunday, March 2nd

Cenci - Carnival Pancakes


These  very friable sweets are a  typical preparation for Carnival and are called by different names depending on the region of origin: chat and lettuces in Lombardy, Cenci in Tuscany, frappe and sfrappole in Emilia, Crostoli in Trentino, Galani and gale in Veneto, lies in Piedmont, as well as rosettes, lasagne, pampuglie, etc. ..

They have an ancient tradition that probably goes back to that of frictilia, sweet fried in pork fat that in ancient Rome were prepared just during the Carnival period, these sweets were produced in large quantities as they had to last for all period of Lent.

Here is the recipe :

Ingredients for 4-5 people


300 gr of flour: 00  wheat flour

3 eggs


200 gr white sugar or 6 table spoons of sugar

Vin Santo ( or aged Rhum), half a eggshell

1 lt of seed oil to fry


Make a dough of pasta by mixing 300 gr of 00  tender wheat flour , 3 medium sized eggs, half a eggshell of Vin Santo or Rhum, sugar and a pinch of salt.

Make a “well” or a” volcano” with the flours and put the eggs in the middle with a pinch of salt, sugar, adding the half eggshell of Vin Santo or Rhum, and start mixing the eggs with a fork and incorporating the flours slowly. When the mixture is not liquid anymore you can use your hands to compact the dough.   Knead it well and then stretch it with a rolling pin making it as thin as possible.
When the pasta is stretched to the thickness required  take a sharp knife ( or a toothed pizza cutter) and make as many diamonds as possible. Make a little vertical cut in the centre  of each diamond.

Heat the seed oil and when ready put not more than 4 pieces at a time into the frying pan.

Quickly turn them once and remove from the frying pan.

Put the cenci on absorbing paper; dust them with regular white sugar or vanilla sugar powder.

Click here If you want to prepare the Carnival Pancakes