Although panettone literally means large bread and probably dates back to at least the 15th century, there are many legends about its origins. Several stories contend that panettone was created by a love-struck young man who fell in love with the beautiful daughter of a man named Toni. To impress her, he concocted this fruitcake treat, and the bread became a hit. "Pan ad Toni" or Toni's bread not only became famous but also won the young lady's hand in marriage.
During the holiday season, Italians eat panettone at breakfast with coffee, between meals with wine, and after dinner as a dessert. It's often accompanied by mascarpone cheese or butter.