Italian word of the day: 'Cinepanettone'

Jessica Phelan
Jessica Phelan - [email protected] • 22 Dec, 2022 Updated Thu 22 Dec 2022 13:00 CEST
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Love it or hate it, this festive tradition is part of Christmas in Italy.


While we can all agree that panettone is Italy's finest Christmas cake (don't talk to me about pandoro, thank you), cinepanettone might not be to everyone's taste.

The word is a mash-up of 'cinema' and 'panettone', making it the equivalent of 'cinematic Christmas cake'.


It refers to a particularly Italian genre of festive film timed for release over the holidays, usually starring many of the same actors and essentially recycling the same plot: Italians go on vacation to a scenic location, meet other Italians, argue, reconcile. Hilarity ensues.

In tone they're closer to a Carry On film than a Hallmark romcom, packed with slapstick, double entendres, off-colour jokes and fruity ladies in revealing outfits. Think festive bunga bunga.

Christian De Sica (L) and Massimo Boldi (R), the comic duo who star in most of the cinepanettoni of the past 30 years.

Many people can't stand them for that reason, but bad taste or not, they're part of Italian pop culture. 

If you're going to sample one this Christmas, start with the mother of all cinepanettoni, Vacanze di Natale ('Christmas Holidays'), the film that started the tradition back in 1983.

It's a farce about rich Milanese colliding with a rough and ready Rome family over a ski break in Cortina d'Ampezzo, and has inspired countless similar versions over the years from 'Christmas on the Nile' to 'Christmas in the Caribbean'. 

PS: if you're looking for more substantial festive fare, try these other classic Italian Christmas movies.

Do you have an Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.



Jessica Phelan 2022/12/22 13:00

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