How to Bake Panettone & Serve it Italian Style

Make Panettone the highlight of your festive entertaining

Panettone is the ultimate Italian Christmas cake, instantly recognizable for its domed shape and its sweet, buttery dough studded with candied fruits and raisins.

Baking a panettone at home is a labor of love, but if you are up for the challenge, you can find a recipe at the end of this post. If you do not feel confident enough to make it yourself, don’t worry!

Most Italians purchase it from their favorite pasticceria, and you can probably find a quality Panettone at your local specialty store. 

The Panettone recipe: are you up to the challenge?

The recipe is for a Panettone weighing approximately 1 kg.


  • Aromatic Mix
    • 30 g acacia honey
    • 1 vanilla bean
    • 1 untreated lemon
    • 1 untreated orange
  • Dough – part 1
    • 100 g sugar
    • 80 g egg yolks
    • 90 g butter
    • 1 g salt
  • Biga
    • 375 g strong Manitoba flour
    • 185 g water
    • 5 g fresh yeast (or 1.5 g dry yeast)
  • Dough – part 2
    • 30 g strong Manitoba flour
    • 1 g fresh yeast /0.3 g dry yeast
    • 2 g salt
    • 10 g water
    • 20 g eggs
    • 40 g sugar
    • 40 g butter
    • 140 g candied orange and citron
    • 150 g sultana raisins
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A Quick Guide to Handmade Italian Dinnerware

The artistry of handmade Italian dinnerware explained

Selecting the perfect dinnerware set requires careful consideration. With so many options in terms of brands, designs, and materials, and considering the cost involved, the task can be daunting.
If one of the options you are considering is purchasing hand-painted Italian dinner plates, I can definitely give you the lowdown.

A table set with the Raffaellesco Blu dinnerware by L'Antica Deruta. Handmade in Deruta, Italy

The craftsmanship unveiled: how is Italian dinnerware made

Italian dinnerware sets are usually crafted from ceramic, a word that comes from the Greek term “keramos,” which means “clay.” Ceramic covers a range of materials, including porcelain and pottery. Most Italian dinnerware is made from earthenware fired at temperatures around 1800°F to 2100°F. This tradition goes way back – there’s evidence of earthenware pieces dating back to 1400-1200 BC.

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Plants & Planters – Bring Your Home Décor to Life

A new word is trending in interior design: biophilia

Mustard footed planter with blue drops. Handcrafted by ND Dolfi in Montelupo Fiorentino, Tuscany - Italy

Although the term was popularized in more recent times by German-born American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, the concept of biophilia has been around since Aristotle. 

The word originates from bio-, meaning life, and –philia, meaning the love of, and describes the rich pleasure that comes from being surrounded by nature.

Biophilic design recognizes the physiological benefits of incorporating plants into our homes, in addition to the psychological and visual advantages.

Why is plant therapy now officially a thing?

The key reason is that houseplants help create a clean and healthy environment by producing high levels of oxygen and purifying the air.

Italian ceramic planter handcrafted in Caltagirone, Sicily, by Ceramiche Sofia.

Many studies have now confirmed the multiple benefits of having indoor plants:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased productivity and creativity
  • Better sleep
  • Cleaner air and less harmful toxins indoors (a natural air filter!)
  • Increased humidity and less dust, thus helping fight against colds and allergies

And quite simply, houseplants and planters are also aesthetically pleasing.  They are a great way to add liveliness, personality, and texture to any room of the house, big or small.

Each type of plant adds a distinct personality to any room with its unique leaf shape, color, height, and volume.  Houseplants become invaluable decor pieces and give you endless possibilities to create interior spaces with special charm.

Here are a few interior design tricks to decorate with plants:

Assess your space to determine which plant type and size will work better in your interior based on the size of the room, amount of furniture, and direct light. Consider arranging your plants in clusters if you have a large space to decorate.

Sicilian ceramic planter with sunflowers and grapes, handmade and hand-painted by Ghenos in Messina - Italy.

The level of maintenance required by houseplants varies significantly. Determine how much time and attention you are prepared to devote to your plants!  Then you can find the right fit for your home and your lifestyle.

Make a list of the plants that match the above criteria before going to the garden center to choose your plants. You want your design to drive the choice, not the other way around.

Choose a pot or planter that goes with your design.  This will make all the difference when trying to create your dream look. 

You’ll be surprised at how these few simple additions can completely transform your living space. Now, take a deep breath and enjoy the benefits of nature indoors. 

A selection of six hand-painted Italian ceramic planters from collection.

How to Decorate with Handmade Italian Wall Plates

Wall plates are back big time!

A popular staple on the Italian dining and living room walls in the 50s and 60s, they disappeared for a few decades, only to return in curated compositions of deftly mixed colors and textures.

Geometric Wall Plate by D&G Design handmade in Deruta, Italy

Decorating with wall plates is exciting in so many ways.

And, if you love Italian ceramics, there are so many colorful, artisan-made wall plates to choose from.
The first step is creating a collection of Italian wall plates for your display.
If you start from scratch, you should define a theme before you start searching. It can be a color scheme, a particular style or a period in time if you decide to go vintage.

Geometric Wall Plate by Francesca Niccacci handmade in Deruta, Italy

Once the treasure hunt is finished – is it ever? – the fun of figuring out how and where to display your collection begins. You can really go wild!

Any room in the house will do, starting from the bathroom. A display of wall plates will add a charming, eclectic touch to the bathroom wall, where traditional artworks struggle to stand up to humidity or steam.
Using creative combinations of colors and sizes, you will be able to add character and dimension to odd walls, too vertical, too narrow or just too dark for conventional art pieces.

No display rule should limit your creativity: you can place your wall plates in line, use decorative wrought iron supports, wooden racks, or just cluster them together in a fun hodgepodge.

Geometric Wall Plate by ND Dolfi handmade in Montelupo Fiorentino, Italy

What are the most popular Italian dinnerware patterns?

What are the most popular Italian dinnerware patterns?

Ask the question to a hundred Italians, and you’ll get a hundred different answers. We have so many regional designs, all deservedly popular thanks to their beauty and their century-old heritage.

However, I do wish to try and answer this question without claiming that this is an exhaustive list of all the best Italian dinnerware patterns, of course. It’s just a brief guide to help you choose.

1 – Classic Italian dinnerware patterns

Three designs belong to this group, all from Deruta: Raffaellesco, Ricco Deruta and Arabesco.

Inspired by 15th and 17th-century Deruta pottery, their classic beauty makes them versatile dinnerware sets whose exquisite elegance and subtle refinement are never commonplace. Here is a short description.

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Handmade Italian Ceramics: how to spot a fake

Learn how to tell if the Italian pottery you are considering purchasing is authentic.

Raffaellesco is one of the most faked Italian pottery designsBefore you close the deal of your life and pay an incredibly low price for what looks like a stunning piece of Deruta pottery, you may want to take a few minutes and learn how to spot fake Italian ceramics.

Lots of nice looking ceramic pieces are machine stamped and sold as original handmade Italian ceramics. Possibly from reputable regions, like Deruta.

Spotting fake Italian ceramics is possible and quite easy. Follow these simple steps.

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Is Italian dinnerware dishwasher safe?

Is Italian dinnerware dishwasher safe?

Yes! It is safe to wash your Italian plates in the dishwasher.

We’d rather lay the emphasis on HOW to use the dishwasher with handmade Italian dinnerware in order to retain their beauty for decades.
Here are some useful tips:

  • use a fine china cycle, low heat and a good quality detergent
  • allow for enough space between your items to avoid accidental knocks during the dishwashing cycle
  • when you get your clean pottery from the dishware, do not place it on a surface that can be stained by water, such as stone or wood. The unglazed bottom will still be soaked with water!

Click to read more about Italian pottery use and care.


Handmade Italian Dinner Plate - D&G Design

How is sgraffito pottery made?

Sgraffito, in English “to scratch”, is a pottery decorating technique first used in Egypt and the Middle East in the 7th century to have pottery look like precious metals. Around the 10th century it crossed the Mediterranean, influencing Italian and Spanish potters.

Sgraffito pottery: Francesco Fasano at work

A layer of colored liquid clay, called engobe, is applied on a leather hard pottery piece. When dry the potter decorates the piece, scratching the superficial layer to form a design and revealing the clay color underneath. At this point the piece can be kiln fired for the first time and, if necessary, colored glazes can be applied before a second firing.

In the picture we see Francesco Fasano at work in his studio. Thanks for the picture, Francesco.

By Tiziana Manzetti

Essential kitchen knives

Essential kitchen knives A set of quality kitchen knives is what you need for a good start in serious home cooking. Having made this fundamental point, the next question is:  which knives should be included in the essential kitchen knives set?

 Chef's knife - handcrafted by Berti of ItalyA chef’s knife is a must-have in the kitchen: it cuts, minces, slices, dices, and chops. You’ll spend a great deal of time together, you and your chef’s knife, so take your time to select  the chef’s knife that you feel is right for you and be prepared to drop a pretty penny on it. One thing you should not absolutely compromise on is the quality of the stainless steel: it must be premium quality, high carbon steel.

Paring knife - handcrafted by Berti of ItalyA paring knife is good for precision jobs, like peeling, coring and larding. It’s the ideal partner of the chef’s knife and its opposite in many ways:  a paring knife is small, light, with a thin blade that usually tapers to a point. You may even want to purchase two of them, one with a straight edge, and one with a serrated edge.

Bread knife - handcrafted by Berti of ItalyNo other knife is able to slice perfectly through a freshly made croissant or a crunchy loaf of bread without smashing them into crumbles. It does an excellent job with ripe tomatoes and anything that has a hard shell with a soft inside. A good bread knife lasts a lifetime, as a serrated blade maintains a sharp edge for many years.

Simple ways to make Italian ceramics last forever

Limoni tableware collection by FimaYou have just purchased a nice set of Italian ceramic dinner plates and made an extra effort to buy a pasta bowl and a serving platter.

Your first thought when you see them nicely displayed on your table is “Oh my Gosh! Aren’t they gorgeous?

Your second thought is “How can I make this treasurable dinnerware set last forever? Well, at least as long as I’m here to admire it”.

Don’t worry.

A little extra care is all you need to keep enjoying your beautiful Italian ceramic dinnerware for a lifetime hopefully yours and your children’s and your grandchildren’s.

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