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Panettone is more than just a Christmas tradition in Milan. For many, the Christmas season only begins when the Panettone hits the shelves. However, many tall tales divide the Milanese surrounding who invented the classic dessert with the candied heart.
The most believed inventor is Ugo, the son of Giacomo Degli Atellani, a nobleman in the court of Ludovico Il Moro, the Duke of Milan. Ugo had fallen madly in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of Toni, a simple baker. Ugo and Adalgisa would meet secretly at night, until one day when Adalgisa told her lover she would no longer be able to meet him since her father fell ill and would have to work in his shop.
Ugo told her that he would do anything to be with her and started working every night in the bakery. But despite his efforts kneading loaves of bread every night, the business was only successful when Toni was working. When Toni offered to sell his business and leave Milan, the two young lovers’ world had come crashing down. Ugo, who worked primarily as a falconer, was in despair with a shattered hope of marrying Adalgisa. Ugo stole two falcons from Ludovico il Moro and sold them to buy butter, which he mixed into the bread. The next day, the bakery was swamped with people wanting to try the ‘’Pan del Toni’’ (the bread of Toni). The business was saved!
Soon, everyone in Milan was talking about the Pan Grande or the Pan de Toni. When Christmas drew near, Ugo added eggs, candied citrus, and raisins to make the ultimate Pan del Toni, or, as it came to be known as, Panettone.
Here is our guide to the best, strictly artisanal Panettone that Milan has to offer.
Corso Genova, 1
One of the oldest bakeries in the city delivers some of our favorite, familiar flavors. Founded in 1936 and currently managed by the third generation of the Cucchi family, this bakery produces one of the city’s most beloved Panettone.
Via Monte Napoleone, 8
One of the city’s oldest cafés has recently undergone a transformation to become a literary café on the corner of Teatro alla Scala. Once the favorite spot of composer Giuseppe Verdi, Cova sells Panettone all year round from 100g to a whopping 10 kg monster Panettone. Cova’s Panettone tradition here involves decorating the Panettone with marzipan to look like Santa Claus. This year’s theme shows Santa in bed, getting a good night’s sleep before heading out to deliver toys.
Pasticceria Sant Ambroeus
Corso Matteotti, 7
The Christmas season only really begins when you start seeing people on the streets, on the Metro, in Centrale Station, or at the airport carrying those distinctive Sant Ambroeus pink-peach colored tote bags.
Via Santa Maria alla Porta, 11/A
Marchesi also sells Panettone year-round, serving it in lovely thick slices that are a perfect mid-afternoon treat. The pasticceria has its roots in a historical palace in Corso Magenta, but you can buy this luxurious Panettone at Via Montenapoleone and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
Via Spadari, 9
One of the hallmarks of Milanese cuisine, Peck serves traditional Panettone with or without candied fruits and raisins. However, they offer much more than that too, serving diverse varieties with pear and chocolate, orange, pineapple, and ginger. This year, pastry chef Galileo Reposis has formed a new recipe with coffee, white chocolate, and pistachios that will amaze both your eyes and your taste buds. They are also available for purchase online.
Via Felice Casati, 27
One of our favorite places for breakfast also makes our most beloved Panettone. Baked in the kitchen next door and packaged in Pavé’s signature red and white geometric pattern, it’s also worth checking out their adorable mini-Panettone!
Piazzale di Porta Lodovica, 2
A celebrity hangout in the 70s and 80s, Gattullo has been producing traditional Panettone since 1961 in the most classic recipe. They are now available for order in-store or online.
Via Carlo de Cristoforis, 5
If you need to buy a gift, choose to do it at Zaini. Here, you can compose a special gift box tailored to surprise the recipient by satisfying her cravings. You can give a box of chocolate bars in their limited-edition Christmas set with unique flavors, a large biscotti in the shape of a tree, or perhaps the classic Panettone, which at Zaini is only cooked with natural ingredients and mother yeast.
Martesana’s specialty is the Sacher torte, so it only makes sense that they combine it with their Panettone! The Sacher-tone comes with a traditional dough base but is covered in dark chocolate with cubes of apricot marmalade inside that replace candied fruit.
Via Uberto Visconti di Modrone, 2
One of the oldest bakeries in the city decks its halls with lights every Christmas for an added bit of winter charm. Here, they make Panettone for all palates, from traditional to extra dark chocolate, and from walnut and date to candied chestnut.
Via della Moscova, 7
See inside the kitchen where Pasticceria Ranieri crafts their divine pastries and signature Fior di Bosco cake (which defies any definition). Ranieri has been churning out their inimitable pineapple Panettone with candied pineapple seeds since the early 60s. It’s also available in miniature form for the more restrained gluttons.
Pasticceria San Gregorio
Via S. Gregorio, 1
Mr. Angelo Bernasconi guarantees that his sweets, and of course his Panettone, will be sublime. San Gregorio serves traditional Panettone, nut and lemon, white, milk, and dark chocolate, and candied chestnut in 500g, 1kg, or 2kg. If you’re hosting your extended family for the Christmas holiday, you can try the 80kg Panettone, which serves 400 slices!
Via Alfonso Lamarmora, 31
I love this place, but I think I may love the pastry chef Angelo, who has been here for over 70 years, a little bit more. The first time I waited for my pastries, he came out of his kitchen and handed me a little cannoncino alla crema. Trust me, once Panettone season is over, you’ll be addicted to not only the little cannoncini but to Angelo’s warmth and generosity as well. You’re lucky if you can get your hands on a signature Panettone since Polenghi only produces 400 a year!
Corso di Porta Romana, 51
Pasticceria Vergani has produced traditional-style Panettone for over four generations and is the only Milanese company that manufactures Panettone on an industrial scale inside Milan. During Expo 2015, they served a revised version of the original recipe with ice cream. Thanks to Deliveroo, you can now order their Panettone to your home or office for a last-minute celebration with colleagues and friends!
Pasticceria San Carlo
Via M. Bandello, 1
Set against a charming backdrop behind Santa Maria Delle Grazie Basilica, Pasticceria San Carlo produces real Milanese Panettone made exclusively with Italian ingredients, down to the butter, eggs, yeast, and of course candied fruit and raisins. Their Panettone has a beautiful pale yellow color and a delicious aroma. All of this comes perfectly packaged in a ruby red velvet hatbox with a bow.