Discovering the Amalfi Coast’s miracle lemons:
When tourists visit the Amalfi Coast they are inebriated by the unique setting of its breath-taking panorama shaped by the arduous and rocky nature of the Lattari Mountains. They are impressed by the beauty of its spectacular and uncontaminated caves, the vision of its traditional houses, narrow alleys and staircases that create the atmosphere of a suggestive “nativity scene”. And by its overlapping terraced layers overlooking the sea that seems to reach infinity.
The Amalfi Coast can give you a feeling of being lost in the “infinite”. To be guided by the beauty, flavours and scents of these lands: your senses captivated by an ecstatic vision, plunged into the multitude of its colors. Blue and green are associated to the sea and the shades of its crystalline waters, the yellow is immediately associated with the sun and the lemon. The true silent protagonist, that has dominated the "vertical" landscape of the entire coast since the Middle Ages.
The most genuine testimonial of the Amalfi Coast is the lemon, commonly named "sfusato lemon” for its particular long shape and the area where it started to grow. This lemon is known for its unique characteristics: a thick yellow-light peel rich in essential oils hides a tender and juicy pulp, slightly acidic with its intense and bubbly aroma that immediately evokes the perfume, charm and colours of its lands.
This type of lemon is the richest in vitamin C and its use, dating from the Middle Ages, was due to its efficiancy in fighting scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency.
In the 11th century The Republic of Amalfi ordered that each ship would provide these important fruits on board. Lemon was also the precious gold of the coast used as the main trading product between the Amalfi Republic and the Arab world, and therefore the frequent commercial contacts with Arabic people encouraged the birth and development of the oldest University in Europe: the famous Salerno Medical School .
It is a proven fact that the University of Salerno used lemons in the cure and prevention of some symptomatic diseases (well-known today by the modern medicine), in particular for its disinfectant and astringent nature. Other benefits include stress reduction, the prevention of rheumatism and gastric diseases, but also as energizer during sports activities.
The lemon of the Amalfi Coast now grows in full respect of traditional farming techniques in the production area using the characteristic terraces named “Macerine” that make up a large part of the agricultural panorama of the Amalfi Coast. The cultivation is carried out under scaffolding of chestnut poles of varying heights, suitably protected during the cold season. Taking the distances between each tree into account, for every hectare cultivated usefully there are more than 800 plants, which corresponds to a maximum production capacity of 35 tons.
Not only the beneficial climatic factors have made the greatness of the crops possible. People have put in much work of people who have worked during the centuries, making the rocky and difficult nature of the mountains more accessible and cultivable.
Today, all this heritage of history, nature, tradition and beauty has been recognized as a World Heritage Site of Humanity, protected by UNESCO since 1997. The lemon also has become a “brand” of Protected Geographical Indication (I.G.P.), which ensures the origin and high quality of the product.
We end our lemon journey with its use, as part of the cooking tradition: according to the typical recipes of the Amalfi Coast it can be served as a main ingredient in a "salad" or as seasoning for fish, sea hors d'oeuvres, or in the famous dishes such as “linguine or spaghetti with seafood” and as a seasoning for meat.
But when we talk about the lemon the number one product is the “Limoncello”, a delicious and fresh liquor made with lemon peels macerated in alcohol and to which sugar syrup and water are added.
Limoncello is used as a digestive drink at the end of a meal, strictly served cold. It is also used in the preparation of cakes and desserts. A good example is the famous "delizia al limone", the lemon cake with the characteristic shape of breast made out of soft sponge cake filled with delicate and tasty lemon cream.