The Amalfi Coast is not only famous for its stunning, mountainous coastline dotted by picturesque towns and terraced gardens. Those lush terraced gardens house another renowned Amalfi Coast attraction – its luscious lemons. So, what’s so special about the lemons in this part of the world?
Protected under EU law
The Amalfi Coast is home to two varieties of lemons which are protected under EU law and carry the IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) status – the Sfusato Costa di Amalfi and Ovale di Sorrento. The Sfusato Costa di Amalfi lemon, also known as the Sfusato Amalfitano derives its name from its tapered shape with the two pointy ends. Sfusato translates to spindle in English. These Amalfi Coast lemons have quite a thick pale yellow rind which is rich in essential oils and terpenes, resulting in an extremely intense aroma. They are much less acidic than other lemons, giving them a deliciously sweet taste. They also contain a higher vitamin C content than most other lemons.
A research study conducted by the Dept. of Chemical and Food Engineering at the University of Salerno found that the peel of the Amalfi Coast lemon has an aromatic potency superior to any other.
The Ovale di Sorrento or Limone di Sorrento is also very aromatic but is brighter in colour, slightly more acidic and juicier.
Both the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento varieties carry the IGP label which translates to PGI – Protected Geographical Indication.
This classification is based on a legal framework provided by the European Union which defines quality criteria for agricultural and food products. The framework establishes a set of rules and regulations which animal breeders, farmers and food producers must abide by, in order to guarantee the quality of the products which they produce.
These regulations are designed to protect both the quality and reputation of regional foods, foster rural and cultural activity and assist producers to obtain a premium price on the basis that their products are authentic.
If you come across some giant-sized, round, bumpy looking lemons these are most likely Citrons (called Cedro in Italian, Cedri plural), not lemons.
A symbol of Amalfi Coast culture & heritage
Many Amalfi Coast families own terraced lemon groves in the mountains which they have tended for several generations. These families either sell the lemons as they are or use the lemons to make various products which are sold throughout the region and across the country.
My husband’s family has looked after their own lemon orchard for many years but, like many other families on the Amalfi Coast, is now struggling to carry on its heritage of lemon cultivation. It is very common now for the children of those living in these coastal towns in Southern Italy to move away to the cities to study and find professional jobs. As the parents and grandparents who still live here age, many of them are no longer able to work the land as they have done for so long.
It really is a tragedy and I hope that somehow in the near future we will find a way to contribute to preserving this precious part of the Amalfi Coast culture and history. It is my wish that my own children will have the chance to learn about the cultivation of lemons and experience this incredible connection that their ancestors have had with the natural environment surrounding them.
Fortunately, the Consorzio di Tutela Limone Costa d’Amalfi IGP (the Consortium responsible for the Protection of the Amalfi Lemon) are working with the local lemon farmers to increase production, prevent the abandonment of the gardens, and strengthen their position in the industry.
The Consortium is constantly working to raise awareness and educate Italians and foreigners about the sfusato lemon and its importance to the Amalfi Coast. They even host a Lemon Tour on which you can visit the very gardens where these lemons are grown in 13 different scenic towns along this beautiful coastline.
Delightful lemon delicacies
Every summer we spend on the Amalfi Coast I indulge in many of the sumptuous delicacies which the locals make using their cherished lemons including sorbetto (sorbet), granita, and the extremely potent and refreshingly bittersweet Limoncello (lemon liqueur).
The last time I visited the town of Amalfi I escaped the scorching heat by treating myself to lemon sorbet, strawberries and lemon granita which we bought at the gelataria in the historical centre.
Lemon sorbet and granita made from Amalfi Coast and Sorrento lemons are out of this world and the best way to survive the heat during the hotter months!
One of my favourite Amalfi Coast desserts is the Delizia al limone – a light and fluffy sponge cake, filled with intensely-flavoured lemon cream and covered with fresh whipped cream. Simply divine!
I will be sharing some fanatastic recipes for limoncello and other lemon delights in coming posts. If you have any favourite Amalfi Coast lemon products you’d like to share or questions about these yellow jewels of the Costiera Amalfitana I would love to hear from you in the comments section!
18 thoughts on “Luscious Amalfi Coast Lemons”
Lemon sorbet is an absolute favourite but would love to try them while on the Amalfi Coast with those views!! I didn’t know about the significance of lemons there. Great information and pictures about the cultural heritage. I hope that the tradition of locals, like your husband’s family, of cultivating lemons is kept alive too.
The more I read your blog, the more I am keen to visit the Amalfi coast! I have enjoyed reading every post. You experience the coast as a local!
Thanks Angela! It’s great to hear you say that as I have lived on the Amalfi Coast. I am going to share some of my funny experiences from when I lived there as a local in future posts so you will really get an insight into what it is like to live there.
The lemons are huge in size comparing to any other lemons on Earth. I wish I could have a taste of that lemon sorbet! These lemons should be trademarked and exported around the world i would say.
Yes, I couldn’t believe it when I first saw the size of some of the lemons on the Amalfi Coast. The granita and lemon sorbet there is better than anywhere else I have ever tasted them. The flavour of the lemon is so intense. It would be great to see more products from the Amalfi Coast being sold in Australia including those using the sfusato lemon as an ingredient such as limoncello and even sorbet.
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Another great post! Again, another post that makes me want to run away to the Amalfi Coast!! PS who is the hottie harvesting the lemons? 🙂
Interesting to hear that the lemons there are even protected by law! I have been to Italy multiple times, once to Rome and four times to Lake Garda where one of my relatives has a small house. Lemons are a big deal there and at Lake Garda there is even one city which is called Limone! There, one can buy similar things and whenever I am there I basically eat nothing but lime sorbet all day long ^^
That’s awesome! I have been to Rome several times but I have never been to Lake Garda but I would love to. It sounds wonderful. Lime sorbet sounds delicious!
This is a great article. I wish everyone could taste our famous sfusato lemons and all the delicious products we make with them on the Amalfi Coast.
Great post, and great photos! It looks like such a beautiful place with lots of colour and movement. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Rob, yes the colours you see on the Amalfi Coast are incredible, from the blue and turquoise sea to the pretty pastel-coloured villas stacked on the cliff faces. In my next post I am going to share some of the amusing things I’ve learned from this part of the world so I hope you’ll stay tuned 🙂
I love your blog. The scenery is breathtaking – The Amalfi Coast is a place I’d love to visit. I am in love with the lifestyle – naps in the afternoon are just what I am looking for!
Ha ha ha, yes you would love the lifestyle then. It is such a different pace and atmosphere. Sometimes I joke with my husband about how he is on ‘Maiori’ or ‘Amalfi Coast’ time when he does things really slowly. They walk so much more slowly everywhere than we ever walk anywhere in Melbourne. But it means they are really living in the present moment and enjoying the simple pleasures.
I look forward to your recipe for Delizia a limone. Great blog
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I visited Amalfi a few years ago and lemons and everything lemon related was near and far! My step-mum and I one day decided to take a walk up the terraces which border Amalfi and I am glad we did. The town is so much bigger than the touristy centre down near the port. We saw the beautiful orchids and got to have a look into the history you have talked about in your post. I didn’t realise that two types of lemons are protected under EU law but based on how much income lemons would provide the region I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising. Hopefully the traditions will continue and many other people get to experience the wonderful lemony world of the Amalfi Coast.
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It is so great that you and your step-mum got to see the terraced gardens bordering Amalfi. This is a side to Amalfi that a lot of tourists don’t get to see but it is definitely one of the most beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.