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PANETTONE

For a true taste of Italian Christmas, you can’t beat a slice of classic (or more inventive) panettone – so here are seven to help you decide which one to serve at your table this year

The origins of panettone go back to Roman times, but it was the bakers of Milan in the early 20th century who made the cake their own. The name is generally believed to derive from the word panetto, meaning ‘small loaf’, with the ending -one added, changing the meaning to ‘large loaf’.

However, certain anecdotes suggest that, slightly more interestingly, it is derived from the Milanese pan del ton (luxury bread). The large, ‘dome’-shaped, yeasted fruit cake traditionally rises slowly over a few days and is baked in a tubular mould to give it its distinctive height. It is usually eaten at Christmas – or Easter, when, in a slightly different shape (as the Dove of Peace), it is known as a colomba. A regular panettone with dried fruits is delicious, but more fancy ingredients can include luxury extras like chocolate chips, almonds, figs and cherries, liqueurs and cream.

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About Italia!

Our writers have travelled around Italy this month to bring you inspiration for your next adventures in 'il bel paese'. Lake Garda is our starting point, an ever-popular destination where quieter corners still remain – if you know where to go. We also head to the hills in Tuscany’s Casentino Forest (whose trees provided the wood for scaffolding to build Brunelleschi’s dome), and if you want to get fit, a healthy spa break in Puglia could be just what you’re looking for.