So the Lemon Garden I mentioned in my last post deserves its own post. It was absolutely amazing. Perched high up on the hill outside of Sorrento, our guide Luigi (legit his real name) described how his family has been in the lemon business for like 200 years.
Town records actually indicate his family has owned the farm since the late 1300s, farming various things since including mulberries. When they ventured into lemon cultivation, they initially shipped them overseas where they were highly sought after, particularly in the UK and America. But when other players joined the market including Spain, their profits plummeted. So, now 70% of their business is in Limoncello.
The craftmanship that goes into lemon cultivation is mind blowing. They grow their trees from seeds (actually from a ‘white orange’ seed) which takes about 10-12 YEARS until it is mature enough to bear good quality fruit. And once it flowers, they wait at least a year before they actually pluck the lemon from the tree. And the exact timing of various parts of the process is dependent on.. the lunar cycle! Their ancesters strongly believed that the moon not only affected tides, but would actually also draw up moisture and minerals in the earth, therefore the best time to plant or graft plants together is when the gravitational pull is highest, Because when it hits the soil, its met with the best growing conditions.
So basically a Sorrentino lemon is an artform.
The lovely hosts then gave us a four course dinner (antipasto, LEMON PIZZA – yes amazingi – lemon risotto, and lemon tea cake with lemon jam). Was it too much lemon? Not even. And then of course, Luigi walked us through the process of Limoncello making which is actually quite simplistic. I sampled some when I was in Rome and it was horrible, but after he explained how they do it and the fact all their lemons are organic, I gave it a go. And it was delicious. Again, cautious of my luggage situation, I only bought a mini bottle. And some lemon infused olive oil. And some lemon lollies. Whaaaat he was an effective seller!!
Anyway it’s late here now so I’m off to bed. A day swimming, risotto, wine and limoncello is sure to make sleep come easy tonight, and stay long!