Reminiscing: Limoncello in the City of Lemons (Sorrento)

15 March 2010
by Phuoc

Clockwise from left: Views from Gardini Augusto; cheeses hanging to dry; Maria Mozzarella's farm; store selling limoncello; "Here ducky ducky.."; flowers at Ristorante Zi'ntonio Mare

Ciao a tutti! Benvenuto a Sorrento!

We started our European holiday in Italy; where we explored this magnificent country on a Trafalgar tour for 2 weeks! We decided on Trafalgar because we weren’t up for partying all night and dealing with hangovers the next day; we WANTED to see the country and the wealth of culture (and food) it has to offer. However, that also meant that we would be travelling with the oldies.. Ant and I were the youngest ones there! The average age for this group would have to be around the 50′s. We met a lot of interesting people in this group. There were several Australians with us; I loved the old German couple from Queensland. They were so cute and serious drinkers too (they’d have a shot of vodka or schnapps with their coffee in the morning, a beer with lunch, some afternoon digestives and then a few glasses of wine with their dinner!). When Ant got sick the husband would tell him to have some vodka to “kill the bugs” whilst the wife told me “to make him better you gotta give him a great big hug.” Ahhh… wise words. And of course there were Americans on this tour; there was a mother and daughter team from New York that I did not like at all (we found out at the end of the tour that everyone else in the group felt the same way – it was funny seeing the older people mock these New Yorkers). They were very obnoxious, self-indulged and just annoying! There was another American lady who asked us “Do you have Mc Donalds in Australia?” and was amazed to find out that olives have seeds in them. Some people in the world have no clue outside the space they live in.

A few days into our tour we arrived in Sorrento; the city of lemons. Our first visit was to a farm where we learnt how olive oil is made and saw a cheese-making demonstration by a lady, nicknamed Maria Mozzarella. It was interesting learning how to make ricotta and mozzarella (there are two forms; the dried one which lasts for a few weeks and the fresh one which lasts for a few days). With my awesome Italian speaking skills I asked her “Posso fare una foto con Lei?” (Can I take a photo with you?) So 1, 2, 3.. Formaggi! I got a photo with her. Afterwards we were treated with one of the most memorable meals ever; it was a simple lunch of cold meats, fresh mozzarella, homemade bread, the tastiest insalata caprese, omelette, homemade wine and a moist sponge cake with homemade orange marmalade. Everything was so fresh, which was expected since everything came from the farm.

Clockwise from top left: Lemon and orange groves at Maria's farm; Beach on Almafi Coast; The White Grotto; Sponge cake with homemade marmalade; Best lunch EVER; Mmm.. wine..; Stall for limoncello, marmalade and olive oil; Me and Maria; More lemon trees; Coastline on Capri; Gelato

We spent two days here and in that time we got to see a wood-laying demonstration, did a little shopping in the town, visited Capri to see the many grottos and fantastic views (the water was a magnificent shade of blue, even on an overcast day) and walked along the Amalfi Coast. The dive to the Amalfi Coast was surely interesting. There was thick fog up (we couldn’t see a few meters ahead of us) driving up hills on roads that can fit 2 Fiats (we were in a mini bus) and there was a lot of bends, so it was pretty freaky on the way up since we were closer to the edge of the road and the only thing stopping us plummeting to the ground was a low road barrier. The highlight of would have to be going to Capri and sailing around the island. We started from Marina Grande and took a boat around to the Faraglioni; which are 3 rock formations which have undergone erosion (similar to The “12″ Apostles). Along the way we got to see a few grottos but the most amazing thing was how blue the water was; even on an overcast day the water was a mesmerising shade of blue, so one would wonder what it would be like during Summer! Something we missed out on doing which I would have loved to do was to visit the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto). Here you actually get to go into the grotto and witness the intense blue interior; what a magical sight that would be (as seen in the picture below).

Inside the magnificent Grotta Azzurra. Image taken from www.capri.com

There are many lemon groves in Sorrento so there is no surprise that they it was here at Maria Mozzarella’s farm where we sampled the BEST limoncello; an Italian lemon liqueur. We were given samples of their limoncello and limoncello a crema to try as well as a bottle of their liquid gold to take home. I loved both but preferred the latter as it was smoother and sweeter. Ant’s dad has an avid love for all things lemon so when I gave him a bottle of my homemade limoncello, I got the thumbs up for it. That was my tick of approval by an Italian. Limoncello is best served cold and absolutely perfect for a warm Summers day; when unexpected guests pop by, stick a few shot glasses of limoncello in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes and a way you go. A word of warning though; this is dangerously good and sweet  so you could have alot of drinks and before you know it you may feel a slight buzz in the head and all happy and warm inside (if you prefer a stronger liqueur, feel free to add less sugar syrup).

EDIT: I’ve had so many enquiries about “Maria Mozzarella’s” farm, so instead of addressing each person individually each time I’ve decided to do some research into where this actual place is to share it with those who are interested. The actual name of the farm is called La Sorgente. The address is Via Atigliana 18, Sorrento and their number is (+39) 081 8072618. Apparently it costs 18€/person for the cheese-making demonstration, tour of their olive oil pressing vat and the most amazing lunch you’ll ever have.

Recipe

Makes 1.5L of limoncello (arancello)


7 lemons (oranges)

750mL bottle of (grain) vodka

750mL water

3 cups sugar


  1. Clean the lemons and dry. Some lemons may be waxed, to unwax them just pop them into boiling water for about 10 seconds. (I didn’t do this though)
  2. Peel the zest; being careful to not get any of the white pith otherwise it would make the limoncello bitter.
  3. Place the peels in a large jar with the vodka and seal the lid tightly.
  4. Place the jar in a cool, dry place for 3-4 weeks. Every so often shake the content.
  5. When it is time to make the limoncello, dissolve the sugar completely in water and cool to room temperature.
  6. Strain the lemon peels out of the alcohol and then add the sugar syrup.
  7. Pour then into bottles.
  8. Serve cold and enjoy responsibly.
Print this Recipe Print this Recipe

Clockwise from top left: The 3 Faraglioni; Houses on the Amalfi Coast; Limoncello; Limoncello a crema; Marina Grande, Capri; View of Amalfi Coast from Positano; Blue waters at Capri

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41 Comments

  1. WizzytheStick

    This is why I blog. In a million years I might never be able to take a trip like this but through your pictures and commentary I have been transported :–)

  2. Vilzi

    This is absolutely awesome.. your adventures of Italy/Europe sound so awesome Phuoc.. I shall give this limincello a go =D outstanding photos

  3. Phuoc

    Wizzy the Stick: Hey there! Isn’t it fantastic where these blogs may take you? I hope you get to go to Europe one day, but for now, I hope you are enjoying these posts :) Thanks for popping by

    Vilz: They were awesome! I want to go back! But I may be lucky and it might be sooner than I thought (it won’t be for a holiday though). Do let me know how it goes though. I forgot to add that you can also use orange rinds; then you’ll get arancello.. :)

  4. foodwink

    Thank you for taking me to Italy with you. The views are just amazing, and your description captivating. Lovely recipe too – I’ve never had limoncello before (*embarassed*).

    P/S: I’ve had problems reading and leaving comments using IE, but it works fine with Mozilla.

  5. Phuoc

    Don’t worry, a lot of people would not have had limoncello as well. I don’t think I’ve found one in the liquor store that is nice; they are usually very bitter. When I went to Taste on Sunday, my bf and I spotted a limoncello stand and had a sample of it. I found it to be too bitter and it left a stinging buzz on the tip on my tongue (most likely to to pith being present in the rind). Like anything you make yourself, it would often taste better than store-bought. I urge you to give it a go, even though it’s a long process you don’t really have to tend to it that much; the reward is definately worth it!

    Thanks for notifying me about that problem; I’ll have it checked out..

  6. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul

    First off let me say I love your blog’s name! Very clever and a great play on words!

    Love the post on Sorrento…and Maria Mozzarella? That’s a classic…Limoncello is delicious but I need to enjoy it in small doses because I get drunk too quick. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  7. Phuoc

    Haha.. Thank’s Peter! I’m loving it too!

    Yeah, that’s why I said it was dangerous because you could simply drink so much of it and before you know it, you’re drunk! I’m lucky that it does take me a bit to get drunk.. I’m glad you are enjoying my post :)

  8. Trissa

    Grotta looks spectacular! I was torn between reading your post and shutting the computer down from jealousy! Love your holiday pics.

  9. Angie

    Awww beautiful pictures! Had a taste of Limoncello at the taste festival yummm. Also made something similar for a post Christmas dinner with some friends last year, my recipe called it Lemon Vodka Martini and it was more of a cheat’s version as I didn’t have the 3-4 weeks up my sleeve to sit the lemon infused vodka and used the juice to give it the flavour instead. And adding soda to it made it all the more easier to skull down! I’m sure done the proper way it would taste magnificant.

  10. Anh

    For a moment, the photos remind me of Halong Bay. Very similar vibe :).

    Love the cocktail!! :D

  11. Phuoc

    Trissa: LOL Awww.. I hope you get to go one day…

    Angie: The limoncello at Taste wasn’t that great; the lemon flavour was there but it was too bitter for my liking. I don’t know how they would mass produce it though; my guess is that they have some kind of rind peeler (like those mechanic apple peelers) but there’s no controlling the amount of pith removed. Interesting sounding cocktail but I think there’s something similar to it (Vodka, lime & soda) but I guess it’s how you present it. I hope you try it one day; it would be a lovely substitute for your Lemon Vodka Martini :)

    Anh: I can’t wait to go to Vietnam again; I hear good things about Halong Bay.

  12. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella

    How funny, I wonder if she has actually changed her name to Maria Mozarella! Gorgeous travel photos and can’t wait to see more! :)

  13. Phuoc

    Thanks Lorraine! I don’t think she changed her name to that; it’s probably the nickname our tour guide gives her so everyone could remember. She kinda reminds me of Rowan Atkinson though…

  14. Renita

    Wow, what lovely shots you have! :) Ooh limoncello! Brings back memories of wandering around in Rome then going to a disco teca where they bought shots of limoncello… Looks like you had a wonderful adventure there. I will now sit here and daydream!

  15. Phuoc

    HAHA “discoteca”. Now that would have been something! Having not being able to experience much of the nightlife, how was it? It’s painful writing these post because as I sort through the photos, I wish that I can just simply go back to Europe and have no care in the world… One can only wish hey?

  16. silvia bedrossian (sydney) (australia)

    Oh…. Phuoc…..!!!!
    You made me relive my days in Italy and especially at Sorrento… All that yummy food and the sceneries to complement it…. Heaven, absolute Heaven!
    Enrico and I had the absolute PRIVILEGE of tasting your fabolous LIMONCELLO at Christmas. We offered that Limoncello also to some Neapolitan friends of ours and they also confirmed our opinion that your Limoncello has nothing to envy the ‘real stuff’ that you have in Sorrento. Bravissima !
    My compliments also for the beautiful photography and your anedocts which make your Blog even more attractive and interesting.
    Ciao Bella!

  17. Phuoc

    Ah grazie mille, Silvia! Mi dispiace che non sono potuto andare a classe questo martedi, come Antonio ha detto. Lucy ha detto che mi ha visto al mio ristorante la settimana scorsa?

    It’s a love-hate situation as I’m writing up these post as it transports me back to our European holiday but I have the urge to go back even more and it sucks because I can’t! I’m happy that you both enjoyed it as well as your friends. I should start a business hey?

    Ci vediamo settimana prossima, se tutto va bene..

  18. Mark @ Cafe Campana

    Great work. This looks delicious. I live the lemony goodness.

  19. Phuoc

    Thanks alot Mark! First time when I served it, we placed them into shot glasses and into the freezer for about 10 minutes and they were kinda like slushies. It would be perfect to serve it like that. Mmmm.. Alcoholic slushies :)

  20. Yen@Foodforfour

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful holiday photos. Just so you know I’m noting everything down cause once my kids are old enough to leave with the grandparents, I’m off to my dream European holiday!

  21. Phuoc

    Oh that’s great! I loved every moment of Europe and I think you will too!

  22. sydfoodie

    I remember tasting limoncello several years ago and thinking how refreshing it was. Back then – not available in Australia. Now I think the NZders are making it, and it is a lot more common. I have heard of Mango and limoncello sorbet, but have yet to make it. Make mango sorbet – then tip a shot of limoncello over the top.

  23. Phuoc

    Mmmm.. that does sound good. Will try that next time. I guess you can have limoncello anyway you like. Eg serve some teacake with berries soaked with limoncello..

  24. betty

    mm sounds nice & refreshing :O)

  25. Phuoc

    It is :)

  26. Y

    What wonderful memories. I would never have thought of making my own limoncello, but now I know how easy it is!.. which could be a dangerous thing ;)

  27. Phuoc

    Thanks Y! I hope you make it one day; you can also do it with oranges to get arancello :)

  28. Paris Pastry

    That sounds wonderful! I’ve always wanted to visit Sorento. Hopefully next year. *fingers crossed* Funny story about those Americans!

  29. Juliana

    Great pictures! The limoncello looks delicious! Very refreshing as well :-)

  30. Thomas Cappiello

    Perhaps Meyer Lemons would be best for this, not as bitter.

  31. Phuoc

    Hi Thomas, unfortunately Meyer Lemons aren’t easily accessible in Sydney (that I know of).. Thanks for the tip :)

  32. Julia @ Mélanger

    Wow, what stunning photographs. It’s such a beautiful part of the world, isn’t it? Thanks for the recipe. When I’m feeling like a little getaway from Brisbane, but sans the flight and cost, I could definitely enjoy one or two and pretend I’m far away! :)

  33. Phuoc

    Thank you very much. Wouldn’t we all like a holiday right now to somewhere that’s nice and sunny…?

  34. Denise

    Hello, we are travelling to Sorrento later this summer and wanted to see if we could get the name of Maria Mozarella’s farm? Sounds fab!

  35. Thomas Jackson

    Greetings!

    I stumbled across your blog while looking for Maria’s place online. I just finished the bottle of limoncello crema I bought there (it made the trip home safely!) and was looking for more. Sadly she’s not online, but your recipe will be most helpful.

    Thanks for putting up the lovely pictures!

  36. Peggy

    We will be in Sorrento soon. Do you have the name of the farm you went to? I would love to take the kids for a visit. Grazie

  37. Barbara

    We visited Sorrento last month, and enjoyed the La Sorgente farm and the in-laid wood shop and all the wonderful areas around Sorrento. AHH – I think I found my soul there. We were treated to some wonderful Lemoncello ricotta cheese cake, (it was not a cheesecake, but more of a poundcake). I MUST get this recipe. Enjoyed reading your blog and refreshing my memory of this wonderful place.

  38. Phuoc

    Denise & Peggy: La Sorgente is the name of the farm.

    Thomas Jackson: You’re welcome! I hope she can sell those delicious bottles of limoncello online, I believe they’ll make a killing otherwise!

    Barbara: Hi! Sorrento is such a lovely place, definitely one of the highlights of our Italian holiday. Limoncello ricotta cheesecake sounds heavenly! (Good luck with trying to find the recipe) Thank you for stopping by and enjoying this post :)

  39. bruidspaar

    Hey there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the outstanding work!

  40. Phuoc

    Bruidspaar: Hi! Thank you :)

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