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Top 17 Most Interesting Limoncello Fun Facts

Limoncello, the rich lemon-flavored Italian digestif plays an integral role in Italy’s culinary traditions. It is refreshing, evocative and close to divine. However, this liqueur is made by using only four ingredients namely sugar, water, lemon peels, and grain alcohol. The skin of the locally grown lemons is infused in alcohol and imparts a distinctive, sweet taste. It is one of the most popular liqueurs in Italy and having a glass of this lemon digestif is a must when you are eating out in an Italian restaurant. A glass of chilled limoncello is a great way to top off a plate of a delicious meal.

Origin

Lemoncello has a history dating back to the centuries. Originally, it was a staple in Southern Italy particularly Amalfi Coast, Gulf of Naples, Sorrentine Peninsula and some parts of Capri, Ischia, and Procida. The lemons of Amalfi Coast and Capri have earned accolades for producing the best limoncello in Italy. The trees stand tall along the cliff laden with the freshest lemons and impart a distinct smell in the air. These trees are not only responsible for producing the highest quality limoncello but also produce some of the most exotic pastries in the town.

Here are Fun Facts about Limoncello

Limoncello, Sorrento

1. Italians love limoncello and it is one of the most popular liqueurs in this boot-shaped peninsula.

2. Limoncello is a highly alcoholic drink but the distinct flavor gives a tart, sweet taste and is pleasing to the palate. To enjoy this drink to the fullest, it must be served chilled especially in the summer season.

3. It is a tradition in Southern Italy to serve the chilled limoncello in a glass right after dinner and usually offered free of cost. However, in other places around the country, limoncello is readily available in almost every bar and restaurant.

4. Amalfi Coast gives visitors a great opportunity to witness the cultivation of lemons as well as the production of limoncello in the best possible manner.

5. Citrus trees were introduced on the island of Haiti by legendary Christopher Columbus. On his second voyage in 1493, he planted a lemon seed on the island.

Lemons Sorrento, Italy

6. The original lemons that are used for the production of limoncello are mostly found in Sorrento and span across the territories of Vico Equense to Lubrense as well as the island of Capri.

7. The cultivation system of these lemons follows the typical traditional practices and the nature of these fruits depends on the climate, their distance from the sea and the different ways of protecting them from cold winds. There is straw matting (pagliarelle) covering the orchards and there are giant chestnut poles that support them.

8. The lemon harvest usually takes place between February and October. The entire process is conducted by human hands and direct contact between the ground and the agricultural produce is prohibited. For the production of limoncello, the fruits are plucked by hands based on their shape, size, and color.

9. The first step in the production of limoncello involves washing the lemon in lukewarm water and eliminating the residual of insecticides. Finally, grain alcohol is poured in a jug and the thick lemon peels are added. This jug has to be kept aside in the darkroom when the color and aroma of the lemon peels will get instilled into the alcohol.

10. The solution should be kept at rest for a month. Afterward, water and sugar are added to the jug and finally, it is stored for another month. Later, the lemon peels are discarded and the drink goes into the freezer.

11. The origin of limoncello is not clear even today. Some believe that limoncello originated in the 20th century on the island of Capri where a local lady created her lemon recipe. Later in 1988, her grandson established his production using her recipe and registered the trademark ‘Limoncello’.

12. Some say that the farmers and the fishermen used to drink this lemon liqueur in ancient times to fight the cold. Others recall that the monks in the Middle Ages used to drink the liqueur in between prayers.

13. Sorrentine Coast has a different story to tell. It is said that the history of limoncello goes back to the 20th century when the wealthy families of Sorrento served their guest a glass of this refreshing drink sprinkled with their traditional recipe.

14. The drink is made from lemon zest that is soaked in grain alcohol until the oil is released. This adds a tangy and distinctive flavor to the digestif.

15. There was a time when limoncello became so popular that some of the restaurants across the nation served it for free. This still happens today in some restaurants in Southern Italy. Italians mostly prefer drinking a glass of limoncello after the meal or with some kind of dessert.

16. Limoncello is often enjoyed as an after-dinner drink, but if you like experimenting with food, drizzle the drink over fresh fruits or gelato. You can mix it with cocktails or drizzle it over a cake. You can also add an extra tang to your lemonade with limoncello.

17. There is homemade, artisanal limoncello that is sold by family-run enterprises in Italy. These homemade versions are mostly common in Amalfi Coast, Sorrento as well as in the outlying islands of Capri, Procida, and Ischia. While meandering along the winding lanes you will find several shops selling limoncello in differently shaped bottles sprinkled with their authentic recipe.

Limoncello can be easily prepared at home. There are lots of recipes that are available online that can help you with the preparation. The only trick is that you must find the right lemons.

Let us know your thoughts on Limoncello here on the blog or you can also visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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