One of the symbols of Christmas in Milan is, without doubt, panettone.

Panettone is Milan’s typical Christmas dessert, but is also the most famous in Europe, whose origins are found in a blur of legend. It is said that this flavoured “bread” was born from love. The recipe is said to have been invented by chance by Messer Ughetto degli Atellani who, in order to win over the baker’s daughter, got himself a job as shop boy and, to improve the shop’s fortunes, created this sweet bread which had an enormous success.

Legend apart, we know for sure that from as early as the Middle Ages, master bakers were producing an early version of panettone to offer people in times of celebration.

What is interesting about this dessert is without doubt the simplicity of its ingredients: flour, eggs, milk, sugar, raisins and candied fruit. A seemingly easy recipe which is made special by the process and the very long rising times – sometimes taking days – which give it a unique aroma and soft texture.

In the period running up to Christmas, Milan’s cake shops and tea rooms all offer their own personal version of panettone which the Milanese love to eat at any time throughout the day: at breakfast with a de rigueur cappuccino, as a snack or even as a dessert accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine.

There are also many events that celebrate panettone, offering extremely refined versions by grand master pastry chefs to be sampled together with savoury foods such as lobster or salmon and accompanied by some of Italy’s excellent wines.

Among the most noteworthy events, is the “Re Panettone” when forty of Italy’s best pastry chefs come together to give free samples of high quality traditional panettone to the Milanese and food tourists. Furthermore, this year, the famous pastry chef Iginio Massari, at top place in Italy according to the respected Gambero Rosso Guide, has created a panettone in homage to Expo 2015 and awaiting the “Panettone Exhibition” which will be held in May in occasion of the Expo.

If you enjoy discovering and tasting new, exciting foods, if you love getting to know a culture through its gourmet and culinary traditions, Milan, especially in occasion of Expo 2015, guarantees an unmissable and unforgettable experience.