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Limoncello is  a tart slightly sweet liquor that’s best ice cold. It’s served all over Italy as an after dinner drink, aperitif or  anytime you want! The original recipe is from Sorrento along the Amalfi Coast where we learned the secrets for making true limoncello from a local family, the Coppelli’s. Gino and his sister gave us lessons over a several day process at their Residence Santa Lucia where we stayed for 2 heavenly weeks.

Dave made the Coppeli family limoncello this week for the holidays to give as Christmas gifts. He found 125 ml and 250 ml bottles with cork stoppers, similar to the bottles our friends in Sorrento used. 

Here is the process

  • In  a 1 or 2 gallon glass jar combine

Yellow rind from 14 large or about 20 typical size organic lemons (only use the yellow peel, not the white pith and not the juice either!) use a sharp vegetable peeler to peel the yellow rind

2 liters 96% alcohol (we used Everclear purchased in Ohio since 96% is unavailable in Michigan. Vodka is NOT a substitute!)

  • Cover and let sit 4 days to 2 weeks. The lemon rind will take on a leather like texture and the alcohol will turn a beautiful lemon yellow

  • Make a simple syrup solution by combining and heating to a boil

5 cups sugar

10 cups water

  • Let the syrup cool overnight
  • Add the syrup to the lemons and alcohol

The limoncello becomes milky when the 96% alcohol is used. Because vodka contains less alcohol you end up with a clear solution which is not what you want. We made that mistake last year!

  • Mix and cover. Let sit 1-4 days
  • Ladle into 4 or 8 ounce clear jars by pouring into a funnel lined with 2-4 layers of cheesecloth

In Sorrento our master instructor used rolled cotton rather than cheese cloth to strain the limoncello. This is the best filter. Use a Watman filter paper or something similar.The cheese cloth allows a fine residue to pass through.

Store in a cool place. Place a bottle of limoncello in the freezer several hours before serving ice cold. Freeze your serving glasses too!

This is Gino Coppelli. He and his sister were our limoncello instructors in Sorrento.

Bella Bella!

4 Months in France, Portugal, Spain, and Italy

Here is a list of my 25 posts of our adventure in Europe. This is like a table of contents of our trip. Go above to Recipes and clock on Travel Eats. You’ll find this list of posts there!

What’s To Eat in Paris?

What’s To Eat in Lisbon?

What Else is There to Eat in Lisbon?

What’s to Eat in Seville?

What’s to Do and Eat in Córdoba Spain?

What to Eat and Do Near Sitges Spain?

What’s to Eat in Provence?

Village Hopping in Provence Part 1

Village Hopping in Provence Part 2

What’s to Eat in Provence?

What’s to Eat in Corsica?

Where to Go in Corsica?

What’s to Eat in Sardinia?

Where to Go in Sardinia?

What’s to Eat in Sicily?

Discovering Sicily

Beautiful Puglia and It’s Trulli

What and Where is Puglia?

What’s to Eat in Puglia and Where is It?

What’s to Eat and Do in Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast? Part 1 of the Amalfi Coast

Beautiful Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, Part 2 of the Amalfi Coast

Sorrento, Making Limoncello and Beyond, Part 3 of the Amalfi Coast

Sorrento, Herculaneum and Naples, Part 4 of the Amalfi Coast


2 Days in Milano

Istanbul Backstreets and Eats

Sorrento, Making Limoncello and Beyond

The first evening of our 2nd week in Sorrento, we walked to the Museo Correale of Terranova to see a performance of Italian opera and Neopolitan songs. This venue was a palace full of decorative arts and art collections. The performance was in a room that seated about 100 people. Most of the audience were English. The 2 vocalists  and 3 instrumentalists were phenomenal! A huge sound in a room much smaller than an opera house!


Beautiful views before the concert near the museum.

The next day we visited the San Francesco Church and Cloisters and saw a photography exhibit of local historical mid century memories. And there were stunning views!


Here is a photo of a scene we’ve seen in Sorrento. Young love!

Francesco Church and Cloisters


Yes that is Mt Vesuvius!

Our host, Gino Coppola and his extended family invited us to lunch and a cooking lesson in their home.

Nutnapha finds Italian cooking easy compared to Thai cooking! She enjoys them both!


Youngest Daughter is Mama’s Girl!

Gino and his niece


The clams have been cleaned and scooped out and sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Then broth and white wine are added


Roughly chopped garlic and parsley to saute


Add sliced zucchini


Brown zucchini and drain on paper toweling


Toss with cooked spaghetti and add the clams and broth. Add butter and parmesan and toss repeatedly


These clams are scrubbed and combined in a large pot with roughly chopped garlic and parsley and olive oil. Place over heat and cover till opened.


Serve as a second course with bread. Bread is not served with pasta!!!


Nutnapha Going Out to Coffee on Her Motorbike

One day we drove on our own to the Masa Lubrense region, took a walk to a small monastery up in the hills, and stopped for lunch at a tiny family cafe.

But first we returned to a tiny town, Marina Cantone, which we explored with Sorrento friends 25 years ago


On to the tiny monastery up in the hills.

Fresh orange juice and lemon juice with only water added, NO sugar!



Fried Zucchini Flowers, Pickled Zucchini, Proscuitto and Sausage



A Thin Layering of Tomato Meat Sauce and Cheese Layered Lasagne


Sfogliatella is a Neopolitan Pastry Filled With Ricotta Served With Limoncello


Sfogliatella is a ruffle of layers filled with ricotta that’s sometimes lemon flavored. Sfogliatella means small thin leaves/layers as the pastry resembles stacked leaves.


Gino’s sister gave us lessons in making limoncello. This was one of the highlights of the trip!


The old style basket and rope with a hook for your back


The lessons in making limoncello were a 3 stage process. 


14 lemons

2 liters 96% alcohol (This is grain alcohol in the USA, which you can’t buy it in Michigan, but you can in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Vodka is not a good substitute) 

2 1/2 liters water

1 kg sugar (2.2 pounds) You can add an extra 1/4 pound if you like it sweeter


First pick the lemons when they still have a little green on the ends.



Then peel carefully only the yellow skin, not the white, and place in a large glass container. 



Above is some mandarincello which was delish! They also use oranges and make various blends.

Pour the 96% alcohol over the lemon and let sit a few days


Mix a syrup of sugar and water and heat until dissolved. Cool overnight. Pour into the lemon alcohol mix. Let sit a few days.

The cooled sugar syrup is added to the lemon rind and grain alcohol mixture


The lemon will become like leather.

The texture of the lemon peel has become a leather-like


The Limoncello is ready to sit and develop it’s flavor for several days


Mix the limoncello with a wooden spoon.  Line a funnel with rolled cotton. Collect your containers


With a ladle, pour the limoncello through the cotton and funnel into the glass bottle.


The completed limoncello ready to distribute!


Gino’s sister and her husband


We work well together! 


Thank you Coppola  Family!