Limoncello, the strongly lemon-flavoured liqueur many of us love and appreciate is one of the most popular after-meal drinks in Italy and in the world.
Ischia, a beautiful sunny island in the Phlegrean Archipelago, is one of the finest places in the country where you can try this superb digestive drink, and it’s said to be the land where this liqueur was invented. Considered as a generous place where visitors come to drink, eat and whistle (a funny old saying goes “Si mangia, si beve, si fischia”!), Ischia is renowned for its numerous thermal baths, laid-back lifestyle, historic attractions and delectable cuisine.
Made using lemons, alcohol and syrup, Limoncello’s history is steeped in mystery and legends. It is said that the fishermen and peasants had the custom of drinking lemon liqueur to keep away the morning cold. There are also stories about monks who savoured the drink during the Middle Ages – good for them! However, the recorded evidence of Limoncello is attributed to a businessman named Massimo Canale who registered the trade name ‘Limoncello’ in 1988, and started producing the liqueur in large scale for commercial use.
After the mass production of Limoncello, its fame started to travel from Capri to Costiera to Rome, and all the way up to Milan. It also travelled south, spreading to the downtown bars of Naples and Palermo. Though the recipe is simple and can be prepared at home, the lemons that grew in certain regions of Campania are the best to create a unique and authentic taste, which makes the drink hugely popular all over the world.
A simple recipe
Traditionally, Limoncello is prepared by infusing lemon rinds with white alcohol. The concoction is shaken at regular intervals for eight days, while the natural oils seep into the alcohol. Then, the zest should be strained off before adding sugar syrup to the the infusion. Finally, the drink can be bottled and kept on the shelf or in the freezer for at least four weeks before serving. It looks like it’s such a simple recipe, yet you can rest assured that the locals must know some kind of secret, because they make an unrivaled Limoncello!
There are many Ischia hotels serving this delicious golden drink. If you would like to appreciate it to the fullest, you should enjoy Limoncello at a very cold temperature, together with a nice slice of cake, or with a bowl of fresh fruit salad. Your summer in this beautiful island would be very refreshing, with this excellent digestive liqueur keeping you company!