Limoncello – Campania’s Lemon Liqueur

November 23th 2010 by Laura Thayer
Campania | Costiera Amalfitana | Sorrento | Amalfi | Gourmet

A visit to Campania is not complete without trying limoncello, the region’s celebrated lemon liqueur.

Credits: Flickr

Lemons are one of the classic symbols of the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento, and all along the coastline you’ll spot their bright color on terraced gardens. They also lend their fresh scent and vivid color to limoncello, the strong lemon liqueur made on the Sorrento Peninsula and throughout the Campania region. Often enjoyed after meals in small glasses, limoncello is a particularly refreshing drink on  warm summer days.

Credits: Flickr

While limoncello can be made with any type of fresh lemons, the magic of Campania’s distinctive limoncello begins with the special variety of lemons that are grown on the Sorrento Peninsula. Along the Amalfi Coast you’ll find the Limone Costa d’Amalfi cultivated in steep garden terraces. Also called Sfusato Amalfitano, these lemons are known for their tapered shape, intensely scented and thick skin, as well as for having more vitamin C in their juice than other types of lemons.

While not far away, the Sorrento coastline is known for Limone di Sorrento, a rounder shaped lemon with highly perfumed skin. Both the Costa d’Amalfi and Sorrento lemon varieties have gained the IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) status, which marks them as unique regional foods of Campania.

Credits: Flickr

The process of making limoncello is quite easy, and many families and restaurants in Campania produce their own. The process begins by choosing the freshest lemons possible, preferable picking them right off the tree. It’s important that the lemons are just ripe, or even a still a little green, because that’s when the skins have the highest level of oils and will make the most flavorful limoncello. Just the peels are removed and then infused in pure alcohol for about a week. The lemon scented alcohol is then blended with a sugar syrup to create the final limoncello.

Credits: Flickr and Flickr

In Campania, limoncello is often served very cold in pretty or decorative glasses. Its high alcohol content means you can store it in the freezer and pour it into frosty glasses that have also been chilled. One of the classic glass shapes is tall and skinny with a little handle to hold while you sip the ice cold, lemony liqueur.

Credits: Flickr

Since limoncello is so strongly connected with Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, you’ll find many shops selling the liqueur and related products, including candies and a delightful creamy version of limoncello. Many shops will also offer you a sample, so you can taste out the local varieties during your travels until you find the perfect balance of sweetness and the distinctive, tart lemon flavor.

Credits: Flickr

For a taste of Campania at home, try making your own limoncello by following these easy steps.

2 pounds of lemons (roughly 6 to 7 large or about 10 small)
1 quart of pure grain alcohol
5 cups of water
3 cups of sugar


  1. Peel the lemons being careful to remove only the zest and not the white pith.

  2. Put the lemon zest into a large jar with alcohol and cover. Let sit in a cool spot for about a week.

  3. After a week, strain the lemon zest from the alcohol and set aside.

  4. Boil water and add the sugar, mixing until it is dissolved but not bringing to a boil.

  5. Stir the sugar syrup mixture into the lemon-infused alcohol.

  6. Strain into clean, dry bottles.

  7. Serve your limoncello cold from the refrigerator or freezer and enjoy!

Are you interested by Italian traditions? Subscribe to our RSS and follow us on on Twitter and Facebook!!!

Download our Free eBooks about Italy
Castello di San Marco Charming Hotel and Spa
Calatabiano (Sicilia)
Faro Capo Spartivento
Chia (Sardegna)
  1. [...] back for more and more. Try them dipped in honey or melted chocolate with a glass of chilled sweet wine like “Moscato di Trani” for a 100% Puglian taste [...]

  2. [...] the verdant Umbra forest and is surrounded by the Citrus Oasis, centuries-old groves of orange and lemon varieties indigenous to the [...]

  3. [...] pizza, and lasagne. Travellers who like testing, know that there is a large amount of savoury regional recipes having nothing in common with them. But not many of them know about some Italian culinary [...]

  4. [...] Ammazzacaffè in Campania is certainly Limoncello, in Sardinia is [...]

  5. Breezy says:

    Have got to try this! Thanks

  6. Massimo says:

    I tried it and the result is very good. I tried it with the original lemons from Amalfi coast

Suggested articles ALL ARTICLES >>
Top 5 Italian Desserts: Traditional Sweets!
What are the most popular Italian desserts?A tasty trip through Italian culinary traditions to discover 5 delicious traditional sweets produced in the peninsulaAs you maybe know (and as I read full article >>
Top 10 Regional Dishes of Campania
The pizza is enough reason for many people to visit Naples Credits: Flickr But the southern Italian region of Campania has much more to offer the hungry traveler. As Campania’s largest city, read full article >>
Movies Set on the Amalfi Coast
Escape to Campania’s beautiful Amalfi Coast in film! From Positano to Amalfi to Ravello, the jewels of the Amalfi Coast have been a popular setting for movies from great film classics to read full article >>

Suggested Hotels

La Bitta (Sardinia)
La Casitta (Sardinia)
Biohotel Hermitage (Trentino Alto Adige)
Limoncello – Campania’s Lemon Liqueur