Lemons on The Amalfi Coast – Minori and Sorrento

Positano

LEMONS on THE AMALFI COAST

   Lemons on the Amalfi Coast? Yes Lemons. The Amalfi Coast of Italy besides being a major tourist destination of the 21st Century, as a result of its unending natural beauty, wonderful climate and tasty local cuisine, combined with charming hotels, boat rides to Capri and all sorts of wonderful things. The Amalfi Coast has all these things, and besides these, it just happens to be The Lemon Capital of the World as well. The Costiera Amalfitana is blessed with an abundance of Lemon Groves up and down the coast, extending Salerno to Sorrento and every town in-between. Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are a Lemon Lovers dream come true. The area has all   sorts of Lemon based products from the head honcho lemon product lemon-liquor known as Limoncello, Lemon Scented Soaps, Lemon Perfume, Lemon Pasta, Lemon Desserts, Lemon Granita, Lemonade, Lemon Tea, and all sorts of Lemon Motif product, such as; Scarves, Ceramics, T-Shirts, this-that-and-every-other-thing. Yes the Amalfi Coast is a Lemon Lovers Paradise. So if you love lemons, this is certainly the place to be.

   The Lemons of the Amalfi Coast are known as Sfusato. They are big and knobby and prized for their perfume and sweet flesh. You can eat the whole thing, even the skin. Lemons are grown all along the Amalfi Coast and on the islands of Capri and Ischia, but Minori has always been known as the center of Lemon activity on the coast. The Sienenese Jesuit Botantist G.B. Ferrari was the first person to make a record of the qualities of the Lemons of this coast. In 1646 he wrote, “the nipple is prominent, the rind is rough, pleasantly scented with a sweet taste, the flesh has 8 or 9 segments, the taste is pleasantly sour.”

  Much of the land between Positano and Vietro Sul Mare had been unproductive up to the middle of the 18th Century, but by the early 1800s lemon farming and trading had become quite productive with great cultivation of lemon groves in Minori, Atrani, Amalfi, Conca dei Marini, Ravello, Cetara, Praiano, Maiori, Tramonti, and the surrounding areas, with Minori as the leading port for the transportation of Sfusato (Lemons).

   If you ever experience it, it is a wonderful feeling to be among Oranges or Lemon Groves, to see them and just to know they are there, and you are among them, looking at them and smelling their heady scent. And in being in such an area, it is sure you will consume them, and in many different guises. You can have Lemon Gelato or Sorbeto, drink Lenonade on a hot day, Limoncello after dinner, that may have been preceded with a plate of Spaghetti al Limone.

   I for one get excited every time I see lemons, or come upon any and every Lemon Grove I see, and Oranges too for that matter. Lemons are King down here but you will also come upon Orange Groves as well, especially in and around Sorrento. And besides a plate of Spaghetti al Limone, when dining out, it’s a good chance you will be eating all sorts of seafood, especially Cozze (Mussels) Vongole (Clams), Alici (Anchovies), (Shrimp), and all kinds of fresh fish and shellfish in all sorts of tasty preparations, your palate will be delighted. Besides the seafood of course you have to have those Lemons in any number of culinary adventures, including; the two leading ways that these lemons are used, as with the famous lemon liqueur Limoncello and also made into Lemon Granita. There also a sweet treat called Delizia al Limone and you haven’t been to the Amalfi Coast, if you don’t partake in one of Italy’s most popular desserts of all, the famed pastry of the area, Sfogliatelle which are a clam-looking crunchy pastry filled with lemon scented ricotta cream. These pastries are divinely delicious and are not to be missed if you are in the great city of Napoli or on the Divine Coast of Amalfi, for this is where they were first invented. Sfogliatella were created by Nuns of the Convent of Santa Rosa in the small seaside town of Conca dei Marini on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. It is believed that the nuns of Santa Rosa invented Sfogliatella some 400 years ago with leftover cooked semolina. They have been a hit ever since. You’ll love it. 

   One of my favorite spots to eat Sfogliatella, is at Pasticceria Gambardella in Minori, the place where, once I get to Minori, I go inside, they call up Vincenzo Manzo at Villa Maria, and he comes down in his Fiat to pick me up, and bring me back to stay at his agriturismo Villa Maria. I always have some Gelato or a Sfogliatella as I wait there at the caffe for Vincenzo to come pick me up. That’s the “Sweet Life.”

   Another good place to have some type of lemon pastry or cake and enjoy the local lemon Sfusato is one of Italy’s premier pastry shops in Sal di Riso, also in Minori and brother of the family at Gambaradella. Salvatore Riso is one of Italy’s premier Pastry Chefs and his Pasticerria Sal di Riso is world famous for Sal’s exquisite pastries, gelato, Lemon Cakes. And you just know that Salvatore makes great Sfogliatelle. Sal di Riso makes several different Lemon types of Lemon Cakes and Tortas made with Lemons from Minori, as well as Lemon Gelato and Delizia di Limone (Lemon Delight) which is a cake that is soaked in Limoncello and covered with a lemon-based cream. This delightful pastry as its name implies was created in Sorrento by Pastry Chef Carmine Marzuillo in 1978, and it’s served in Naples, Sorrento, and all over the Amalfi Coast.   

   Now the other great place to enjoy the local Lemons of Amalfi in their sweetest forms is at the most wonderful pastry shop in the town of Amalfi. The place is at the very center of Amalfi, right in the middle of the Piazza del Duomo and just feet from the beautiful Cathedral of Sant’Andrea. The place is Pasticceria Andrea Pansa and it is an absolute gem of a pastry shop / caffe. Great pastry shops and caffes are among the most wonderful things in all of Italy, and Pansa Pasticceria is up there with the Best of The Best in all of Italy.  Andrea Pansa has been in the town of Amalfi since 1830. The place is absolutely gorgeous, and yes, they make many wonderful pastries, cakes, gelato, and cookies that are scented with, yes you guessed it, Lemons from The Amalfi Coast. You can have a Limonello here, Granita, Gelato, a Lemon Delight (Delizia di Limone), and of course the greatest pastry of them all, the Sfogliatelle Santa Rosa in several different forms. Grab yourself a seat at a table inside or go outside and enjoy yourself al fresco style. Order as I might, a nice steamy Cappuccino accompanied by a crunchy Sfogliatelle and you shall be in 7th Heaven, “I guarantee you.”

   So you are on the Amalfi Coast among the world’s best lemon groves, and of course you want some lemons in your savory dishes as well. If you are in Sorrento, you absolutely have to go to the grand caffe in the heart of the town at the Piazza Tasso to the Bar Fauno, which if you were forced to pick a spot  that was the epicenter and Heart Beat of Sorrento, it would have to be this place, Bar Fuano. Bar Fauno is a large grande caffe where you can get just about anything to eat that your little heart desires. You can simply have an Espresso or Cappuccino, a Pizza or Panino, an Apertivo such as a Negroni or Aperol Spritz, you can have either an Italian, an American, or a full English-Breakfast. You can eat there for lunch, or dinner, it’s all here at Bar Fauno, including, yes; Limoncello, Sfoliatelle, Gelato, Lemon Delights, and Lemon Granita, whatever you like, they’ve got it at all at Bar Fauno. They even have a very impressive wine list if you so desire. It’s more than just a standard one, they have it here as well.

   At our recent stay in Sorrento with our apartment directly across the street, my cousin Tony and I found ourselves at Bar Fauno about 7 times in three days. We absolutely loved the place, and what’s not to love? As I’ve already stated, “they have everything.” When we first got into town, driving in a car from Salerno, there’s a parking garage just down the street from the caffe. So we parked the car and headed towards Bar Fauno. We sat down with our friend Alan who had joined us for a few days. Our waiter brought over the menu and wine list, and as we had been drinking Ferrari “Perle” the day before and Tony loved it and wanted to get another bottle of the stuff. And so we did. We ordered a Pizza and an Octopus Salad, “as I’ve said, they have everything.” We had a nice little lunch and then we checked into our suite. With the suite, they gave us vouchers to have breakfast at Bar Fauno, and we did so for the next 3 days. We had a wonderful little breakfast that included; Cappuccino, fresh OJ, and a Cornetto. The breakfast was quite nice, and as always, good service from the friendly Bar Fauno staff. Thanks guys. 

   You are in Sorrento, and this is a place they really go wild for Lemons and anything related to them as in a couple hundred different souvenirs you can buy, with a Lemon Motifs upon them. You can get an apron, Spoon Holder, Citrus Juicer, a Key Chain, T-Shirt, Polo Shirt, and so many things with a Lemon on them. This is Sorrento, a place that gets millions of tourists from all around the world every year, and many of the businesses derive income from lemons in one way or the other, whether it’s from products made with lemons in them, such as Limoncello, Parfum, Pasta, Jams, Soap, or what-not, to items that simply have images of Lemons upon them, that’s Sorrento, The Amalfi Coast and Lemons.

Excerpted from POSITANO – The AMALFI COAST COOKBOOK / TRAVEL GUIDE by Daniel Bellino Zwicke … Publication release November 2020

A Lemon Grove

LIMONCELLO

POSITANO The AMALFI COAST

COOKBOOK / TRAVLE GUIDE

DANIEL BELLINO ZWICKE

Pasta alla Lemone Amalfitana

RECIPE in POSITANO

The AMALFI COAST COOKBOOK / TRAVEL GUIDE

COMING November 2020

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