Written by Jessica Graybill
Lemons and Italy go together like bread and olive oil – you may be able to find one without the other, but together they are so much more significant! Lemons have existed in Italy since Roman times, but not in the way we know them today. The earliest lemons, traded between the Republic of Amalfi and the Middle East, were tiny, pulpy, and primarily ornamental, but over time Italian farmers crossbred the variety with the bitter local orange, producing the ‘nostrato’; the direct parent of Sfusato Amalfitano, also known as the Amalfi lemon. Sfusato Amalfitano is sweet, flavorful, aromatic, and has twice the vitamin C as other varieties – an attribute that was necessary on long sea voyages to prevent scurvy! This large, knobby fruit is distinguishable from the Sfusato Sorrentino (the Sorrento lemon) in that the latter is shaped more like a football (American) and is typically more juicy.
Evolving from a landscape that was formerly rural but somewhat unproductive between Positano and Vietri sul Mare, the lemon became a great step in the socio-economic ladder of the area. Production and cultivation was the main industry of certain towns, with both men and women equally taking part in the enterprise. In fact, lemons are so important to the heritage and livelihood of the area, they’ve created a governing body responsible for the preservation of the Amalfi lemon; known as the Consorzio di Tutela Limone Costa d’Amalfi I.G.P. The Consorzio was founded in 2002 in order to maintain the quality and heritage of the fruit, and they also promote and publicize the lemon’s unique properties through tours and events throughout the area. If you find yourself traveling on the Amalfi coast, consider partaking in this flavorful experience! It’s sure to be a treat.
Naturally, with a fruit so integral to the landscape and livelihood, lemons seem to find their way into and onto all sorts of things, including hand painted Italian ceramics. Many of our collections feature vibrant yellow lemons, whether they are front and center or accenting a cornucopia of mixed fruits. Check out our Alcantara, Frutta Mista, Toscana Bees, Limone, Daphne and Volute collections for a fresh, citrus-y souvenir of a past (or inspiration for a future) Italian holiday!