SEAing Yellow on the Amalfi Coast
Have you ever wondered how and what grows in other countries?
Over the last few years, we’ve become increasingly more conscious of how and where our food comes from. We grow our own, trade with friends, and purchase locally as often as possible. That’s why we find it tremendously fascinating to see how it is done in other countries.
Coming to Italy we expected to see hillside terraces growing varieties of tomatoes, olive trees, and grape vines but what we weren’t expecting to stumble upon was an endless valley in Amalfi covered with lemon trees.
The lemon is a very important staple in Italy and Amalfi lemons, known as “Sfusato Amalfitano” are prized as one of the best varieties in the world. The Amalfi lemons have a distinct aroma with a bursting flavour high in acid. It makes a tart juice similar to that of grapefruit with subtle tartness making it extremely refreshing. To be sure you are purchasing “Sfusato Amalfitano” lemons or lemon products look for the I.G.P. logo which is the official logo acknoledging these lemons were grown in this territory using the tradtional rules of production.
While we knew the climate in Italy was suitable for growing citrus, Canadian grocery stores generally stock these fruits from either Florida or California making it quite a shock to stumble upon the valleys in Amalfi covered in trees.
The vast majority of trees are lemon but there are also several orange varieties including kumquats and some figs and olive trees too. The valley between the steep hillsides provides the perfect arena for growing these trees and they line the hills on terraces for as far as your eyes can see. They are covered in green or black web like netting which provides the trees with some shade from the strong beating sun.
Amalfi is famous for its beautiful coastline, crystal clear water, mountainous backdrop, and its unlimited number of hiking trails. It was during our first walk known as “Valle Delle Ferriere” that we discovered the terraces growing lemons. Lemons galore!
The town is fed by an endless number of strong flowing streams and if you walk a few kilometers into the center of Amalfi you will find these crystal clear waters rushing over weathered limestone. Not to mention stunning waterfall after waterfall!
Centuries ago these streams facilitated the production of several papermills and an iron working factory. Today, there is little remaining of these old industries along the streams’ bank. Just a series of ruins where they once existed.
Today, these flowing stream are utilized by the village for providing the town with fresh drinking water (which comes out of an array of splendid fountains) as well as being the source of irrigation for the fruit trees and vegetable gardens.
The lemons are made into countless products for both the local and tourist populations. These goods include their famous lemoncello (a tart lemon liqueur), candied citrus peels, Amalfi gelato, and even soap made in the shape of lemons with that unrecognizable citrus scent.
The scenery here is out of this world and I found myself often singing, “I’m on top of the world, looking out on creation…”