All I want for holidays is a lot of joy, and if it comes in a pretty package, all the better. With that in mind, I racked my brain and perused Ciao Bella to bring you my curated selection of ebullience. From exclusively made in Italy to exclusively efficient and limited editions, please enjoy my last-minute joy-themed gift guide featuring Ciao Bella favourites along with some surprises. Andiamo!
Graphic designer Olimpia Zagnoli makes everything luscious. Her stylised colors and crazy geometric shapes have graced the covers of the New Yorker, the walls of Uniqlo, the Estee Lauder counter and the pasta section at supermarkets. Now it’s time for you to have a little OZ at home. First up is any one of Zagnoli’s limited edition prints that capture iconic Italian moments in technicolor. Each glicee print is a limited edition of 50, and is numbered and signed. Dimensions 40 x 50 cm. All you have to do is frame.
Every time I cruise La Double J, whether virtually or in the brick and mortar stuff, I become more and more convinced that the J stands for Joy. It’ palpable in every color combination, every print and every moment in her Milano boutique. Founder JJ Martin, aka Milan’s Patron Saint of Patterns, single-handedly overthrew monochromatic norm core with dresses, coats, skirts and and more in a palette of mesmerizing patterns, whimsical images and fantastical colors in a holistically out-of-this world joyful vibe and her next Darwinian leap is homewares.
As expected, La Double J sourced the very best artisans in Italy to set he table in print with the most fabulous Ancap porcelain flatware, Murano glassware, cloth table runners, table cloths, placemats and napkins featuring vintage prints. And of course, there are kitchen accessories like trays, oven muffs and aprons. Take my advise, and peruse La Double J. Even a single exquisite espresso cup is overflowing with joy. My cup runneth over.
I keep an ongoing list of gorgeous books with delicious writing. My latest top three are cookbooks written by three amazing authors all based in Italy with unfathomable food expertise. I grew up being taught “never judge a book by its cover”, but these three are gorgeous and great reads.
Hands down, Guardian columnist and award-winning food writer Rachel Roddy’s latest book A to Z of Pasta is my favourite cover – a vintage Italy meets Maurice Sendak, no? A to Z is choc-a-bloc with Roddy’s gorgeous writing, effectively a compendium of 100 essential pasta and pasta sauce recipes.
For those who love getting to know a region by food (honestly it’s the best way), you will want to get lost in Laurel Evan’s latest book Liguria. Starting with the photos taking by Evan’s husband Emilio Scoti, Liguria t is a love song to Ligurian cuisine and Liguria, all starting with focaccia.
Last but definitely not least is Laura Lazzaroni’s The New Cucina Italiana. Journalist, author, and baker Lazzaroni brings you into the kitchens of some the most innovative culinary minds in the bel paese with an incredible sexy look at contemporary Italy’s food scene,
The Perfect Panettone
This is the second year in a row that Olivieri makes my list. And it is thanks to Olivieri that I even like panettone. A quick story – I grew up with awful dry cake that a single bite had the power to ruin a great meal. I vowed never to eat one until I spent a season researching and tasting Italy’s favorite Christmas cake and tried Nicola Olivieri’s panettone.
The sixth-generation baker has been perfecting his great-grandfather’s 130-year-old panettone recipe for the past few decades. Olivieri’s cake is light, delicious, fresh and has just the right amount of crunch. It constant ranks as one of the best panettone in all of Italy. We love them so much we send them as gifts to well-deserving friends in Italy and the USA. USA, you ask? Yep, Olivieri ships them overnight –international panettone in 24-48 hours. It doesn’t get anymore Italian than this . . .
Rome is more
Romanesco, that gorgeous rough and tumble dialect, mentality and sense of humor. This is for all you who fell in love with Rome at first daje. Thank you, Romeismore, for immortalizing the language of streets of Rome.
I love pyjamas. And I love dinosaurs. Thank you, Desmond & Dempsey for making this limited edition collab with the Natural History Museum. Freakin’ dino-mite! For him, for her, for the kids.
Practical and efficient efficient gifts bring a lot of people joy, and for that, I present the Lojel Urbo 2 Citybag, a sauve “I am not a high school backpack” backpack with the best pockets and water-resistant material. Personally, I love how Urbo opens almost like a suitcase when resting on its back and easily pack fits and outfit with pair of shoes. It brings me joy every time. I am also obsessed with the Cubo Carry-On in yellow.