The amalfitana peninsula represents a mirabile example of how the agricultural landscape can characterize a geographic area.
The sweet degrading of the bloomed terraces, the characteristics "pagliarelle", the evocative contrast of colors between the green of the leaves of the lemons groves and the blue of the sea, the penetrating scent of zagare, make the Amalfi Coast a unique landscape in its kind. It's this "the country where the lemons bloom", whose beauty has been a lot admired from poets and artists of all the times.
It's sure that Amalfi Coast lemons were known at the age of the Roman. Some mosaics and frescoes of Ercolano and Pompei demonstrate it. The lemons were initially interesting for their aesthetic and aromatic qualities and were cultivate as ornamental plants.
Initially this citrus was diffused mainly in the localities of Minori and Maiori, in the Salerno side of the peninsula, and in those of Sorrento and Massa Lubrense, in the Neapolitan side.
In order to protect the plants from atmospheric adversities, it was necessary to cover the plants with particular trellis works, on which they came mounted "pagliarelle": straw made mats tied with pieces of chestnut tree, whose length was approximately two meters, placed on trellis works constructed with chestnut tree poles, of which those vertical ones are called "allirti" and the orizontal ones are called "correnti".
In more diffuse varieties of lemons on both shorelines, we can find local peasant ecotypes that are very adapted to the climatic conditions of the zone. The lemon cultivated in Amalfi Coast is the "Sfusato Amalfitano". Also in this case it seems features of a local ecotype, deriving, in origin, from the variety "Femminello Sfusato", also called "Femminello di Ravazzina". The juice that is obtained from the Amalfi Lemons traditionally is considered more adapted like flavor than other lemons because it's much more perfumed, has more taste and acid.
On Massalubrense hills and the Sorrento plains a common Femminello with fruits of medium-small size is diffused, light yellow color, abundant juice and perfume, said also "Sorrento Oval Lemon" or "Lemon of Massalubrense". It should be a plant derived from the actual "Oval Femminello", also called "Ruvittaru". The "lemon of Sorrento" seems to conserve the main characteristics of this variety exalting some special aspects: the intense scent, increased scouring the peel, inner particularly sweet and full of juice, low seeds presence.
The body responsible for preservation of the Amalfi Coast lemons (Sfusato Amalfitano) is the Consortium for the Promotion of the Amalfi Coast Lemon (Consorzio di Tutela del Limone Costa d'Amalfi I.G.P., ndt) (www.limonecostadamalfiigp.com). When buying the lemons or lemon by-products look out for the I.G.P. logo which is the official acknowledgement that the lemons used were grown in the territory and according to the traditional rules of production.
There are numerous farmhouses on the Amalfi Coast today that grow a type of lemon - sfusato amalfitano - prized as one of the best variety in the world.
The family-run farmhouse "Villa Maria" (http://www.agriturismovillamaria.com), overlooking the beach resort of Minori and the "Divina Costiera", offers a restful, enchanting place to stay on the coast, at which lovers of fine food & drink are especially welcome.
For those who prefer a more rural space for a stay on the Amalfi Coast, the country house "Il Frescale" (http://www.ilfrescale.it) is recommended. It is located in the green hills of Tramonti, just a few miles from and above the sea-side resorts.