Limoncello and its origins

The Amalfi Coast is famous for the production of a particular variety of lemon, the Sfusato Amalfitano, a product with very valuable and renowned characteristics which already had great economic and social importance in the 19th century. There is no dish or dessert that cannot be embellished with its juice, its pulp or its zest. But it owes its fame above all to limoncello, the most classic of after-meal liqueurs. It has an intense aroma of lemons and a taste that provides the palate with a pleasant sensation of aromatic freshness. Its alcohol content is around 30° and represents a true excellence of Italian food and wine.

Much imitated throughout the world, it is a product that tells the story of the coast. Even today there are many housewives who prepare it at home. Its preparation is simple but be careful, for the result to be the best you need quality, fresh and untreated raw materials (preferably from the Amalfi Coast). Lemons, picked for a maximum of 48 hours, require the peels (only the yellow part) cut by hand, which are left to macerate for about a month in a solution of alcohol, water and sugar. Once the maceration time has elapsed, a syrup based on water and sugar and more alcohol is added to the mixture. After another forty days of rest, the infusion must be filtered and bottled.

Limoncello should be stored in the freezer and is an excellent digestive thanks to the properties contained in it. But, in addition to being enjoyed simply as is, it is also used to dip or flavor desserts, fruit salads and ice creams.

Legends and stories abound regarding its origins. Capri, Sorrento and Amalfi dispute its paternity. According to the people of Capri, the liqueur was born at the beginning of the 20th century in a small guesthouse on the Isola Azzurra, thanks to Mrs. Maria Antonia Farace, who took care of a lush garden of lemons and oranges. It was then her son who began the artisanal production of the liqueur, thus spreading the tradition of limoncello on the island. On the Sorrento Coast, legend has it that since the early years of the twentieth century, local noble families never let their guests miss out on a glass of limoncello. In Amalfi, however, there are those who maintain that it has much more ancient origins, almost linked to the cultivation of lemon itself. Some say that it was used by fishermen and farmers in the morning to combat the cold already at the time of the Saracen invasion. We will probably never know the truth, but what is certain is that today limoncello has become one of the gastronomic delights of the Bel Paese, sipped not only on our national soil but also in many countries overseas.