Italy celebrates Christmas and the winter holidays with special events and festivals. Italy's winter holiday season generally starts with the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, a national holiday, and runs through Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, on January 6. During this period Italy boasts a dizzying variety of Christmas sweets.Pandoro: This sweet Christmas bread from Verona is star-shaped and dusted with powdered sugar. The name pan d’oro means “bread of gold”.
Pandolce: Meaning “sweet bread,” pandolce is the variety from Genova. Legend has it that the famed 16th-century Doge of Genova invited Genovese chefs to submit recipes for a food that would be as well as nutritious, durable and suitable for long sea voyages—and so pandolce was born.
Torrone: Similar to nougat but with a harder consistency, the torrone is made of eggs, honey, sugar, almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts.
Panforte: One of the oldest sweets of Italy, panforte is a spiced fruits and nut cake which dated back in the 13th century. It is highly aromatic and from this that is name means “strong bread”.
Panettone: Hailing from Milan, panettone is a sweet, dome-shaped bread loaf studded with raisins and candied citrus peels.
Struffoli: From the Neapolitan tradition, struffoli are deep fried balls of dough slightly bigger than chickpeas.
Pangiallo: From Rome and the Lazio region, pangiallo, a golden yellow (giallo) bread filled with nuts, raisins, spices, and candied fruit (including lime peels), has ancient origins.
Like all food traditions, the cakes and prep vary by region. Ready to taste them all during your holidays?