Almost everyone has at least some level of familiarity with cannoli. This Italian dessert is made from fried dough with a sweet cream cheese filling. It can also have a variety of other additions, including orange zest, chocolate chips, nuts, and cinnamon. Cannoli has an interesting history. As you read the remainder of this guide, you will discover a number of fun facts about cannoli.
Cannoli originated in Sicily – Cannoli was first created on the Italian island of Sicily, specifically in the Palermo and Messina regions. Sicilians developed the dessert, especially for their Carnivale celebrations. Carnivale has numerous similarities to Mardi Gras and cannoli came to serve as a symbol of fertility.
Cannoli are popular all year in Italy – Although cannoli was originally a special treat for Carnivale, they eventually caught on so much that bakers started selling them throughout the year. At that point, they became a staple not only at Sicilian meals but all over Italy. Even today, Italians enjoy cannoli on both special occasions and typical family meals.
Cannoli came to the U.S. at the turn of the century – Cannoli first started becoming popular in the United States around the turn of the last century. As Italians, particularly Sicilians, immigrated to America to find work, cannoli started showing up on menus in Italian-owned bakeries and restaurants. Ultimately, they caught on and became standard Italian-American fare. It is still easy to find cannoli all over the United States today.
Cannoli lacks standard sizing – Cannoli comes in a wide range of sizes. Cannulicci, for example, are about the size of a person’s finger. In the Sicilian town of Piana Degli Albanesi, on the other hand, cannoli are famous for being approximately the size of hot dogs!
Cannoli existed in the Roman Empire – Although ancient cannoli wasn’t the same as modern iterations, it did exist in an early form as long ago as Cicero’s time. Arabic Saracens are believed to have brought sugar to the Italian peninsula, which may have given rise to the earliest types of cannoli. It is also possible that honey was used even before sugar made its way to the region.
Whether you’re already a big fan of cannoli or you’ve never tried this dessert before, we hope you’ll visit Boston’s beautiful North End. Plan your stay with us and enjoy authentic cannoli in the city’s historic Little Italy.