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History of Limoncello, Italy’s Famous Digestif

by Jack Guy

Sep 17, 2019

© Ekaterina Pokrovsky | Dreamstime
If you’re a caffeine junky, Italy’s capital is the place for you. To order like a Roman, avoid milk- and cream-based coffee drinks after breakfast time, as locals believe it causes indigestion. A must-visit is Antico Caffe Greco, a historic spot opened in 1760.

Destinations / Europe

This lemon liqueur hails from the Amalfi Coast, but is popular across Italy and beyond.

Made from lemon zest, water, sugar and alcohol, limoncello is a popular digestif. It is said to originate in Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast, as well as the island of Capri.

Its origin story is disputed, with some saying monks used to make it in the Middle Ages and others claiming peasants and fishermen in the early 20th century would drink a little in the morning to fight off the cold. Others say it only spread beyond a handful of families in 1988, when a businessman named Massimo Canale registered “Limoncello di Capri” as a trademark.

Whatever the backstory, the yellow drink has since gone on to find remarkable success. You may well be offered some after meals out, so it’s worth remembering limoncello is high in alcohol.

You might not notice the taste immediately because of the strong lemon flavor and the fact that limoncello is usually served cold, but indulge in a couple of drinks and you will soon feel the effects. Some people stir it into tonic water or even Champagne, and there are now different variations such as pistachiocello and meloncello.



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