Ciambelle, the wine-fueled cookies of Zagarolo

Cookies have a universal popularity. Who doesn’t like cookies? However, cookies take on an additional importance in Italy.  You might be surprised to learn that the typical Italian breakfast is a cappuccino and something sweet, such as a croissant or a cookie. Simple and delicious, it’s an excellent way to start the day.

In Zagarolo, all cookies are not created equal. The village has its own special type of cookie called ciambelle. Ciambelle are donut-shaped, and they are larger and lighter than most Italian cookies. However, a significant differentiator is that they are made with wine instead of water! They can be made with either white or red wine. Hazelnuts and chocolate are sometimes added for additional taste and texture.  

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Ciambelle are often enjoyed as a dessert after dinner; they are dipped in wine to bring out the flavor.  

Another interesting aspect of ciambelle is that they are mainly baked in forno (large community brick ovens) and distributed to local shops for sale. Historically forno served as a central point where the art of breadmaking could be passed on, and where baking took place when not every home had its own oven in the kitchen.

Chestnut wood bundles that will fuel a forno (wood-fired brick oven) in Zagarolo


Brick ovens still exist, including three Fornos in central Zagarolo. In the mornings, the brick ovens are fired with chestnut branches to bake the day’s bread and cookies, and then the ovens are closed for the afternoon.

Ciambelle-producing brick ovens are just one example of the quirky things you will encounter in Zagarolo. Come to Zagarolo to enjoy a pizza baked in a wood-fired brick oven. Discover a different way of living, only 30 minutes away from Rome’s Termini station. Let Olive Tree Hill treat you to  ciambelle and show you more local treasures!


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