Sorrento's famed sweet lemony liqueur

Limoncello is made from steeping lemon zest in what is essentially grain alcohol and then adding tons of sugar. It is delicious, it is sweet, and it is best served out of the freezer in a shot glass than has also been in the freezer.

It has become the after-dinner drink of choice across Italy for those who can't stomach the far harsher grappa brandy (and, as such, is frequently offered to women after dinner—Italy is nothing if not gallantly traditional in a slightly—if well-intentionedly—misogynistic manner).

It is also freely available in Sorrento.

Limoncello shops in Sorrento

You can score free hits of limoncello from dueling shops on opposite corners of the intersection of Via S. Cesareo and Via degli Archi (the larger of the two is Limonoro, Via S. Cesareo 49–53, tel. +39-081-878-5348,

Young employees at each sling plastic shots of the lemony liqueur to a chorus of "Please, to take a taste," and proclaiming "No problem, is included in price!" When a browser knocks a bottle off the shelf and it shatters.

The bottles themselves are a riot of shapes and sizes: globes, mermaids, sneakers, pagodas, grapes, anforas, male torsos, Pulcinellas, fluted columns, prancing ponies, the Italian "boot," violins, sailing ships, hearts, smiling suns and grinning quarter-moons, pineapples, beer barrels, and all sorts of geometric shapes.

And what's in them isn't just straight lemon liqueur. There's the even tastier crema di limoncello creamy variation, as well as alcoholic infusions of peach, walnuts, fennel, melon, mandarin orange, licorice, chocolate, and alloro (bay leaf). (Yeah, I've had that last one before, and believe me, there's a reason you've never heard of it.)

Also on hand: marmalades, scented honeys, olive oil, and the typical Neapolitan dessert baba al rhum (beignets soaked in sugared rum).

Limoncello tours near Sorrento


Tips & links

How long does Sorrento take?

Planning your time: Sorrento has maybe 2-3 hours of mediocre sightseeing. To be brutally honest it is probably the least interesting town in this area. It is only famous for its location.

Sorrento makes an ideal base for exploring Campania thanks to its location at the nexus of regional public transit—pretty much the only place from which you can get anywhere without having to change mode of transportation: Trains direct to Pompeii and Naples; ferries to Capri; buses or ferries down the Amalfi Coast.

If you prefer the home-base style of travel, Sorrento is the perfect base. Figure on three days/two nights here (hit Pompeii on the train ride down from Naples—you can store your luggage temporarily at the Pompei train station—then spend one day each visiting Capri and the Amalfi Coast).

If, however, you prefer to travel from town to town, just treat Sorrento as a way-station to switch from train to bus or ferry; skip Sorrento entirely and sleep in a more interesting locale on the Amalfi Coast or Capri.

» Sorrento itineraries

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