Neapolitans and tourists alike revere Pasticceria Poppella for its fiocco di neve (snowflake)—a soft, small brioche, dusted in icing sugar and packed with a deceptively light, vanilla-scented filling of ricotta and Italian pastry cream. While it is Poppella’s undisputed highlight, you’ll also find rum-soaked babà, creamy cannoli with glacé cherries, an assortment of impressive cakes and of course, strong coffee!
The historic Poppella brand was born in Naples, back in 1920, from the merger of two names: Papele (Raffaele) and Peppenella (Giuseppina), i.e. Raffaele Scognamillo and his wife Giuseppina Evangelista, who, in those years, had started the business of bakers in the popular Rione Sanità. After the difficult years of the Second World War, in 1960 the management passed into the hands of his son Salvatore and, in 2005, into those of his son Ciro, the third generation of Poppella. In 2016, Poppella opened its second store in via Santa Brigida—the tourist heart of the city, just a stone’s throw from the Maschio Angioino, the Galleria Umberto and the San Carlo Theatre.
Ciro Poppella, aside from being a renowned pastry chef, is a local legend for his larger-than-life personality and of course, his snowflakes.
The snowflake wasn’t an overnight success, either. Initially created as a cheap, simple dessert, Ciro churned out just 20 or so every Sunday.
For five years, Ciro continued that initial limited production until one event changed his life. Asked to help at a charity event in Naples for children with disabilities, Ciro gave away 3,000 snowflakes to the children and their families, and from there, a blizzard started.
Now, to get a taste of one of Naples’ most famed pastries, you’ll have to wait in line. Since those humble beginnings, production has reached 10,000 pieces a week.
“I owe so much to them, I will always do everything for these guys. Since that day I have done even more charity because good deeds always come back to you,” Ciro told Cookist.
Fortunately, while standing in line you can take in the views of the whole Rione Sanità. Just a few steps from Poppella you’ll see the stunning baroque architecture of Palazzo Sanfelice, designed by architect Ferdinando Sanfelice.
Although many have asked and continue to ask, Ciro Poppella has said time and again that he will never reveal the secret combination of ingredients that delights young and old, and locals and tourists without fail.
You may just have to visit and taste it for yourself!