Lemons grow in abundance from trees that cling from the cliffs of the spectacularly beautiful Amalfi coast. It is along this steep and jagged coastline of the Tyrrhenian Sea that huge lemons are harvested three times every year. Amalfi lemons possess a unique sweetness that results from a combination of the volcanic soil, year-round warm temperatures, and a perfect amount of rain.
In the kitchens (cucine) of every ristorante, trattoria, or home along this divine coast, lemons are a part of the life and cuisine of the locals and used for everything from cooking, to cleaning, to beauty treatments. As always, nothing is wasted in Italy.
During the last week of my trip in Italy, all of my senses were immersed into the influence that lemons have in Italian cooking. Mid-week, my mother and I ventured into the dream-like mountainside town of Positano where rainbow-colored buildings appear to be carved out of the rock. We drove down the spiraling road into the town for a class on how to make limoncello and to learn more about the difference between various olive oils. It was so interesting and we certainly learned more about lemons and olive oil from Italy.
yes, that is the road at the top of the photo . . . literally, a true cliff-hanger!
a closer view of the nail-biting Amalfi Coast drive that lives up to it’s infamous reputation!
just one view of Positano, Italy and the beautiful blue sea
homes are built on top of each other in the very little amount of space in Italy!
Population density of Italy: 514 people per square mile,
a country that is not even as large as the state of California
Population density of the United States: 84 people per square mile!
Space is a premium in Italy and when you include thousands of tourists, Italy is very crowded.
lovely, luscious, limoncello while dining al fresco
road-side lemon stands abound everywhere, as well as in the markets
enormous lemons the size of baseballs!
our first stop on the Amalfi Drive . . . a small market stand of a local woman where we purchased her home-grown and home-made limoncello,
olives, olive oil, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichokes . . . all delicious!
shops filled with beautifully and creatively designed bottles
containing the Italian liquid gold elixir
window displays of limoncello and orange liqueurs
tempt you to stop in and purchase a bottle or two
tempting displays of lemons and limoncello in baskets outside one shop
OK, so where’s the recipe for limoncello and step-by-step photos?
They’re coming, I just needed to share more of the prevalence of lemons
and the color ‘yellow’ in the landscape!
Lemon-flavored Italian cookies (Zuccherini) . . .
oh these were SO good, not too sweet and oh so lemon-y!
You can click here for my family’s delicious recipe for “Zuccherini”
My family LOVES ‘torrone’ a sweet nougat candy with nuts from Italy!
While at a local festival for St. Luke in Praiano,
I bought a box of the limoncello-flavored torrone.
I remember my Nonna enjoying this candy every Christmas!
A lemon granita stand at the same festival for St. Luke in the village of Praiano.
Lemon granita is now one of favorite icey treats, oh so much better than snow cones!
Olive oil that is enhanced with the addition of lemon juice drizzled on bread
after the cooking class. The flavor was so refreshing and light!
lemon motifs on Italian ceramiche brighten the walls of an open market in an Amalfi piazza
a ceramic-topped table beautifully hand-painted with lemons that almost came to
my home, had it not been for the price ($1000.00) and the price of shipping!
But oh how I fell in love with this little table!
In my dreams, huh?
However, I did give in to indulgence and purchased this lemon-colored sink with lemons and blue fig motifs!
We will certainly enjoy washing our hands in this beautiful creation
and remember the Amalfi Coast every time!
The yellow color of lemons carries over into the beauty
of the painted churches, homes, and shops.
This is a church in Sorrento, the furthest southern city on the peninsula
where you can take a boat over to the little island of Capri.
this lovely yellow house is located in Montecreto, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
and not on the Amalfi Coast. Yellow and gold are simply very popular colors everywhere in Italy.
OK, here’s the recipe for limoncello plus step-by-step photos
from our cooking class on the Amalfi Coast!
20 large lemons
1 Liter (33 oz) bottle Everclear (pure drinking alcohol)
4 cups of water (or more depending on the strength that you want the Limoncello)
4 cups of sugar (or more for the same reason as above)
Peel very thin slices of the lemon rinds, trying not to slice into the white flesh under the rind.
a perfectly skinned lemon with the white flesh remaining
put the rind slices into a big bowl; as you can see, some of us in the class of four students sliced off too much of the white flesh of the lemons
. . . other than my mother, we were certainly novices at this!
(The peels with the white pith weren’t used, but rather put aside for another use)
get the bottle of super-strong booze
pour the alcohol into a large jar or container in which to age the limoncello
add the lemon peels . . . see none of these have the white pith at all
cover and seal well
every 3 days check on your lemon peel – alcohol mixture
and swirl the peels around a bit
allow the limoncello to marinate for 30 – 40 days
(depending on how strong you want your limoncello)
strain the lemon peels from the alcohol and discard the peels
After the days are completed for marinating the lemon peels in the alcohol, proceed to make the sugar water:
measure your sugar
add equal amounts of water to the sugar in large pan/pot
bring the sugar and water to a high temperature for about 10 minutes
In a large bowl, pour in the strained, aged lemon and alcohol mixture
add the sugar-water to the lemon-alcohol mixture
stir well and pour back into big jars or containers; seal well.
allow the limoncello to ‘marry’ for an additional 30 – 40 days
Pour into pretty bottles!
my mother and me during our limoncello class straight from Positano, Italy on the beautiful Amalfi Coast!
at the end we tasted various flavors of liqueurs:
strawberry-cello, limoncello, anise-cello, and coffee-cello
the limoncello was certainly the best!
after the class we had pasta for lunch in the restaurant
my mother enjoyed this bowl of Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce and Cheese
I decided on the Cheese-Stuffed Ravioli Caprese
The tomatoes in Southern Italy have a flavor that is so unique and different from those grown in the States . . . more pungent, sharp, and tangy.
And my oh my, is dining out in Italian ristoranti EXPENSIVE! These three ravioli were $20.00! We were so glad that we rented a villa and bought groceries from the local market where food was so cheaply priced! For one week, we only spent $130.00 on food for the three of us and only ate out twice. . . . leaving more euro to spend in the shops!
And just one more golden shot of the Amalfi Coast from the terrace of our villa in Praiano
where we would enjoy brilliant colored sunsets every evening . . .
with full tummies comforted a little bit more with Limoncello!