It’s literally impossible not to notice all those lemons and the famous Limoncello liquor when you travel along the coast in the Sorrento-Amalfi area or visit the famous Capri island.
They give the area its unique look, perfume, and taste and, obviously, brighten even the cold and rainy days.
Many legends are telling the story of Limoncello as each area considers it its concoction.
According to the generally accepted version, this traditional yellow liqu0r was born in the early 1900s but was it in Sorrento, Amalfi, or Capri – no one can tell for sure. In reality, even in Sorrento and in Amalfi, legends and stories about the production of the traditional yellow liquor. In Amalfi, some even claim that the liquor has very ancient origins, almost linked to the cultivation of lemons in the area, which is more than 1000 years old. Some historians claim that the limoncello was used by fishermen and farmers in the morning to fight the cold, already at the time of the invasion of the Saracens. Others, however, believe the recipe was born within a monastic convent to delight the friars between one prayer and another. We may never know the truth, perhaps, but we know for sure that nowadays, the liqueur has crossed the frontiers, conquering the global markets.
Limoncello is becoming a world-class product like Bitter or Amaretto. The liqueur is invading the world, from America to Australia to Asia, and not just by virtue of Italian emigrant restaurateurs. Consumers around the globe like Limoncello because it is good, fresh, and excellent as a digestive at the end of any meal, both meat and fish.
And to protect this product from imitations, Italians reserved the name Protected Geographical Indication (IGP) for the production of the characteristic "oval" lemon of Sorrento. The original Sorrento lemon, or “feminello” must be grown in one of the territory's municipalities that goes from Vico Equense to Massa Lubrense and on the island of Capri. Limoncello can also be produced with another type of IGP lemons, that of the Amalfi Coast, the “sfusato Amalfitano”.
So what is in it to make it so unique? Limoncello is a sweet liqueur obtained by the maceration in the 90% ethyl alcohol of lemon peel and sometimes other citrus fruit, then mixed with a syrup of water and sugar. The citrus-yellow peel, obtained from the best elliptical, symmetrical, and medium-large lemons, is the main ingredient of limoncello, containing essential oils that give the liquor a strong aroma, as well as a very strong taste. There are 10 large lemons consumed per 1 liter of alcohol. The maceration period varies according to the recipes, but on average, it is about twenty days, after which the syrup is added, with roughly 600-700 grams of sugar per liter of water. The liquor is then filtered and bottled.
On average, after at least one month of bottle aging, the preparation becomes the classic yellow liquor, particularly enjoyed as a digestive after meals.
At the end of a lunch or dinner, in all the trattorias of Italy, in addition to the bitter and local ammazza caffè, the most widespread digestive is Limoncello.
To taste the authentic and unique Limoncello, the original one, you must go to the Amalfi Coast or Sorrento. In addition to its great taste, you’ll get a fantastic view of the Gulf of Napoli or a local lemon grove!
I particularly loved the taste of Limoncello, made in Ravello by "Profumi della Costiera" of Daniele Mansi (http://www.profumidellacostiera.it). It seems to me a bit less sweet and has an exquisite flavor. Highly recommend!
Limoncello is traditionally served at weddings in Campania and could be a charming wedding favor the guests enjoy.