Polenta and Pangiallo festival in Riano

Riano centro storico, stemma at municipal building entrance

A beautiful and brisk, and very windy 7C Sunday is the perfect kind of a day for the heartiest of Italian comfort foods: polenta. We’re one of the smaller towns immediately north of Rome; our tiny historic center is composed of two streets that meet at a small piazza where the polenta festival took place.

There was a choice of polenta in rosso with tomato sauce, sausages and pork ribs or in bianco, without tomato sauce. We opted for red sauce. To drink, a choice of beer or wine. We chose red wine but it was icy cold; unavoidable on a day like today. The polenta hit the spot, casareccio and piping hot. For dessert Pangiallo, a typical cake from the Lazio region.

Pangiallo is a typical Laziale Christmas cake, not dissimilar to a fruitcake, that dates back to Roman times. It is neither bread (pan) nor yellow (giallo). Each town has its own recipe for Pangiallo and here is one you can try out. It’s very simple to prepare and makes a nice holiday gift.


  • Raisins, 75 grams
  • Candied fruit, 75 grams
  • Almonds, coarsely chopped, 200 grams
  • Walnuts, coarsely chopped, 200 grams
  • Hazelnuts, coarsely chopped, 200 grams
  • Pine nuts, 100 grams
  • Flour, 200 grams
  • Honey, warmed, 200 grams
  • Cocoa powder, 50 grams
  • Grated dark chocolate, 100 grams
  • Eggs, 3


Preheat oven to 170 C.

Use a wooden spoon to combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Divide the dough and form into flat rounds, then place on a baking sheet lined with oven paper.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

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