Amalfi Coast lemons: a little history
From the 1400s, a flourishing trade to other parts of Italy and Europe began out of the port at Minori and so production was again increased. The whole of each town was involved in the production: the men with the cultivation, the women with the transportation – back breaking work along Il Sentiero dei Limoni. The lemons carried by the women to the beach, where the fruit was loaded onto ships. Whilst transport methods may have changed, the lemons are still harvested this way today – on the shoulders of manual workers. By the 19th century, trade in the lemons across the world had brought both economic and social importance to the region.
Today the cultivation of the lemon remains an important part of the local economy, although perhaps it is a little more entwined with tourism than it once was. 100,000 tons of lemons are harvested annually, from approximately 400 hectares.
Production, however, is now regulated. In October 2003, a body called the ‘Consorzio di Tutela Limone Costa d’Amalfi I.G.P‘. (Protected Geographical Indication) was founded in order to ensure the origin and quality of the ‘sfusato amalfitano’ lemon. All lemons, liqueurs and lemon by-products bearing the I.G.P. logo conform to the regulations.
As you continue walking along Il Sentiero dei Limoni, the typical Mediterranean scrub or macchia becomes apparent, growing up the rocky cliff faces. Olive trees, pines, gorse, rosemary, vines – you notice the stillness, the crispness in the air. You are taken back to another era. The stillness is broken as you hear hooves on the stones. A muleteer and his mules pass you by as if to reinforce the moment.
Terraced lemon gardens: a sensory experience
A fork in the path:
The culinary landscape: antipasto to liqueur
These qualities combined with its amazing flavour have changed not only the physical landscape of the Amalfi Coast but the culinary landscape too: the juice, the flesh, the peel, and even the leaves are all used in the local cuisine.