There are few places in the world with such a high concentration of beauty as the Sorrentine Penninsula: with the island of Capri, the Amalfi coast, the Lattari mountains, Sorrento, the sea, the gardens and Vesuvio as a backdrop.
The panorama looks like a postcard, but it’s all authentic – like the regional cuisine. Over the years, the centuries, common tastes have mixed with haute cuisine that’s been created especially for the illustrious visitors – from Nerone to Greta Garbo, from Wagner to Nureyev – that have always flocked to this splendid area for their holidays. Yet while this territory may be a vision to behold, it’s not easy to cultivate; and its bounty is thanks to the hard work of many generations of farmers. While the climate is perfect in virtually every season, the jagged hillsides over the sea require methods of cultivation that hover between the ingenious and the insane.
The prince of this challenge to nature is none other than the Sorrento lemon (PGS). This noble fruit has the perfect balance between sugary sweetness and tart acidity, a singular aroma that makes it unmistakable from any other lemon on the planet. It’s been cultivated for thousands of years, and appears on the frescoes on the walls of Pompei and Ercolano. And of course, it’s famous today as the base ingredient for today’s beloved limoncello.
To know more, check out Solagri, the first company to fight for the care and protection of the Sorrento lemon. The “lemon roads” can be found running all above the coastline, and this site suggests evocative itineraries that show where the orchards and farms are.
There are also local co-operatives, like Le colline di Sorrento, that organize guided gastronomic tours. But remember, when tasting a lemon, it’s best to eat the whole thing – including the skin – so that you can taste and experience all of this fruit’s sunny, saline sweetness. And do it while gazing out towards Capri.
Photo courtesy Don Alfonso 1890