The Amalfi Coast is known for its lemons. Walk through any of the small towns in this region, and you can find an array of lemon-themed souvenirs and treats – lemon candies, lemon chocolate, lemon soap, lemon ceramics, lemon kitchenware, etc. So it seemed fitting that on our last day on the Coast, Steph and I did a lemon farm tour.
We took a public bus to the town of Amalfi, and then waited for our tour bus to arrive. There was no mistaking which one was our bus:
We drove through Amalfi, and up the long, winding road through the Dragon Valley to the small town of Scala. Scala is the oldest town on the Amalfi Coast, and also the most appropriately named – “scale” in Italian means “stairs.” And if you’ve ever been to the Amalfi coast, you know that there’s A LOT of stairs. Scala is nestled in the hilltops, and even on a cloudy day, offers stunning views of neighbouring Ravello:
We arrived at the lemon farm, and were greeted by one of its residents, a charming octogenarian who was busy peeling chestnuts:
Every autumn, Scala hosts the Festa della Castagna (the Chestnut Festival). Posters were plastered around town advertising the upcoming event. When we were in Rome, chestnuts were a common street food, roasted on a hot grill and served up in paper cones.
Every corner of this farm was beautiful. Here are some pics of the scenery:
Growing lemons takes a tremendous amount of work, and it is a year-round endeavour. As we learned, there are actually three harvest seasons in a year for lemons.
Fun fact: Lemon trees have the same lifespan as humans – 90 years.
While there were plenty of lemon trees on this farm, there were also endless amounts of other fruit and vegetables.
At some point, we came across the BIGGEST zucchini I have ever seen in my life. I got so excited trying to take photos that I almost tripped on a rock pile (usually vegetables don’t prompt that kind of reaction in me). So hopefully you enjoy these pics:
Mid-tour, we were greeted by a delightful ball of energy named Pluto. He was very happy to see us and basked in the affection of our tour guide.
Pluto’s face is similar to how I looked every time I saw gelato on this trip – slightly deranged and full of joy.
But let’s go back to the scenery…
Can you guess what these adorable fuzzballs are?
In the middle of the lemon farm was a villa, apparently owned by a Canadian guy who comes here in the summer to write. I must find this man and marry him.
Here is the view from the villa:
Toward the end of the tour, we were offered fresh figs plucked from the tree.
Below is the view looking back toward the farm. The white house at the top is where we started. The farm extended all the way down to the bottom of the cliff, with many interconnected tiers.
We then walked back into town. On the way, we spotted a beautiful miniature nativity scene. Throughout the Amalfi coast, you can find many nativity scenes nestled into the rocks.
I tried to grow cherry tomatoes on my balcony once. They did not look like this:
Our visit to the farm ended with delicious lemon treats, including fresh-squeezed lemonade, babas (limoncello-soaked pastries shaped like mushrooms), lemon bread, and…lemons. As alluded to in the title above, you can actually eat the lemons whole because they are so sweet. Even the rinds. And I did. This plate was devoured:
When the food comes out, so do the cats:
Joining us on the tour were two couples from Quebec. This offered the chance to try out my French, but my brain was so saturated with Italian, that I’m sure they seriously questioned the quality of French-language education in Ontario. I managed to muster “Il y a beaucoup des chats ici” in a poor effort to make conversation.
Side story about the cats of the Amalfi Coast: We took a snack break while hiking the Path of the Gods, stopping to eat in a small village en route to Positano. As the group began unwrapping homemade muffins, three cats appeared out of nowhere, meowing loudly. The cat lovers in the group ensured they were well-fed. I kept my muffin to myself.
Once we left the farm, we thought the tour had come to an end. Fortunately, we were wrong. We piled onto the bus again, and found ourselves heading toward Ravello, where we arrived at the factory where the lemons are packaged and processed.
Next, we watched a demonstration where we learned how to make limoncello, and were offered sample shots of different kinds of liqueur, including chocolate, fig and strawberry. You could then purchase various liqueurs or jars of babas.
As a parting gift, everyone was given a lemon to take home:
There was still one last surprise on this delightful tour. Steph and I opted out of lunch, which was an additional cost. So rather than taking the tour bus home, the tour company provided us with a lift back home in a “Ferrari.” It was kind of the best.
This was one of the highlights of our trip. The lemon farm represents what makes the Amalfi Coast one of the best places to visit in Italy – wonderfully hospitable, and full of delicious food and breathtaking views. More posts on this land of sea, sun and lemons coming soon!