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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!

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

From Sorrento we took the Circumvesuviana Train to Ercolano/Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius. At the train stop in Ercolano, the Italian version of Herculanum, we took the bus up many switchbacks to Mount Vesuvius. It was a mountainous trip up through thick forests until we arrived above the tree line.

Upon getting off the bus we then walked up the gravel like path with intense wild flowers and shrubby plants to the Mount Vesuvius Crater. It was fantastic! It is a live volcano with steam coming out of the crater! The views were of Naples and the sea! It was foggy up there though.


After walking and slipping down the lava rock path and taking the bus back down to Ercolano, we stopped for an outdoor lunch at a nice family pizzeria just outside of the archeological park entrance.

The caprese salad and bufalo mozzarella pizza were as good as it gets!


was the town where all the wealthy people lived. They were hit by the volcano after Pompei. Because of the deep pyroclastic material which covered it, organic objects such as wood beams, roofs, beds, doors, food and 300 bodies were preserved.  Only 1/4 of Ercolano is uncovered. The rest of it is under the modern city. I would recommend Ercolano over Pompei!



The train ride back was hot, but we met interesting fellow travelers.

The next day we took a trip to Napoli, the Italian version of Naples. This was our 2nd trip there this week! The first was a 3 hour car ride, a closed museum and church, but a nice tour of the city by Pietro.

This time we took the boat from Sorrento to Naples! Beautiful 1 hour ride along the coast! We met Caroline and Joe at the Renaissance Marriott. Cool art glass exhibit in the lobby. Had lunch and walked around Naples. Saw the Veiled Christ at the Museo Cappella Sansevero. The Naples National Archeological Museum would have been a good stop.

Leaving Sorrento



Mount Vesuvius


Castle Nuovo in Naples


Brilliant Colored Apricots

A Musical Serenade at Lunch


Pizza in Napoli of Course! The Home of Pizza!


Godfather Images



Napoli Style!



Pompeii Style Jewelry


Proseco at the Renaissance Marriott



We took the boat back to Sorrento and had a lovely dinner at ILBuco. Very fancy!

A curved cracker with a brandada of swordfish





Black Squid (made with squid ink) and White Squid


Lobster over Polenta


Bluefish with a pistachio crust


Roasted Lamb

 Good bye Amalfi Coast! It’s been unforgettable! On to Assisi!

Beautiful Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, Part 2

 We took a stunningly beautiful day trip to Càpri. Notice I placed an accent on the first syllable which is the correct pronunciation!  Gino Coppola from Residence Santa Lucia  arranged it all. His friend picked us up at the apartment with another family of 6 and drove us along the Amalfi Coast to a tiny village where we boarded the small boat.

We boated to Càpri and enjoyed the views halfway around to Marina Piccolo. We stopped at the beach cafe and then took the bus to the town of Càpri. We explored the pretty town and walked through the Augusta Gardens with the dramatic views of the sea. We ate our caprese paninis the boat tour provided in the shade outside these gardens.

We took a cool convertible cab with an awning back to Marina Piccolo where we enjoyed the beach. This was much more pleasant than the bus! We finished our ride around the island and stopped at a few grottos to swim.  The Blue Grotto was closed by the time we arrived late in the day.




Marina Piccolo


Capri Cab Beats the Bus!


Marina Piccolo Mermaid



Augusta Gardens



Swimming Through the Arch


Dramatic Coastline of Capri


The Arch of Love

We arrived back home around 7 and enjoyed a Thai dinner that Nutnapha, Gino’s sister in law, made for us. Green Curry, Spring Rolls, Pad Thai and Fried Shrimp. Delicious!

Today Pietro drives us on a tour along the Amalfi Coast! First stop is Positano, a charming touristy and quaint town where we explored and had a coffee along the beach. The girls bought original paintings of the town. Then we drove south to a ceramic discount shop where the girls made purchases. Along the way we stopped to see the views of the sea and enjoyed fresh orange and lemon juices


Beautiful Positano

Pietro took us to a phenomenal restaurant for lunch just outside of the town of Amalfi called 

Tratorria da Ciccio Cielo Mare e Tera which has been family run since 1931. Cielo, Mare e Terra refer to sky, sea and land. Ciccio is the owner.


The views were incredible from the floor to ceiling windows along 2 complete sides of the restaurant. There was also a balcony!

I haven’t found our pics yet of the food we ate, but it was one of the best meals of our trip. Here were our selections:

Home made short pasta strands with seafood over a potato and lemon purée! That lemon was a real enhancement!

Spaghetti and seafood cooked in a bag! The bag was like parchment and was presented with much fanfare

Home made pasta with sausage over a cream of broccoli purée 

A mozzarella ball mixture over tomato sauce special appetizer


Their own limoncello served with fresh blackberries




That evening we picked up a pizza from Pizzeria Da Franco in Sorrento and brought it home for a late dinner.


Pizza with Proscuitto, Cheese and Arugula

On our last day and we explored Sorrento on our own and hung out at the pool. We ate leftover pizza for lunch. Gino dropped off some of his spaghetti with mussels for us to try! Delish! 

For dinner Gino arranged a cab to take us up into the hills to a typical local Sorrento restaurant.  Da Filippo. It was on a small farm where the smells of manure were present fertilizing the vegetable gardens.There was no view, but the place was filled with locals.


Beef Steak with Porchini Mushroom Sauce


Homemade Pasta with Seafood


Mixed Grilled Meats


Grilled Chicken


Rotini with Seafood


After dinner we took a cab to the Hilton for the view and desserts. Then we walked home from there. 


Layers of Thin Pastry, Chocolate and Custard


Strawberry Puree with Strawberry Mousse and White Pieces of Candy

The kids left the next morning for their adventures to Sardinia, Corsica, Naples and Rome!

What’s to Do and Eat in Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast? Part 1 of 4

Our much anticipated 2 week adventure in Sorrento began after a 4 hour drive across Italy from Puglia to the Campania region. Two of our 3 daughters and 1 boyfriend joined us in Sorrento for a week.

We rented an apartment at the beautiful Residence Santa Lucia located a short walk from the center of Sorrento, Piazza  Tasso. The complex was a farm and has been developed into a stunning group of buildings, homes, cottages and apartments. Especially appreciated is a beautiful new pool, patio and garden area.
Gino Coppola was our main contact person at Residence Santa Lucia and he was always available. He was a great reference for all there is to do in the area and he set up several tours for us. All were magnificent! And his English is superb!

Our first night was dinner at the Marina Grande at Trattoria Emilia one of my favorites of the entire trip.


Al Fresco Dining Bliss!

Spaghetti and Mussels


Rigatoni with Seafood , one of my favorites of the entire trip!

Grilled Eggplant


Basket of Fried Fish

Gelato for Dessert in a Gelato Cone Chair

 Hanging out at the beautiful Residence Santa Lucia garden pool!


Garden and Pool View from our 2nd Story Apartment

Apartment Terrace

Aperitif at Hotel Bellevue Syrene Terrace before dinner

Dinner at Marina Grande, Taverna Azzura

Ravioli Stuffed with Fish in a Creamy Crab Sauce


Grilled Sea Bream

We also shared bruschetta and eggplant parmigiana. On the way home we stopped for gelato. Ricotta with walnuts and honey was my choice my favorite next to the rice flavored gelato in Florence.

Our 3rd day we had a quick walk to the train and then a 1 hour trip to Pompeii. We arranged for a guide, Rosemary, to meet us at the Pompeii station to give us a 2 hour tour. Fabulous!

Ready to Leave at the Gate of Residence Santa Lucia


Some areas like these were not open


Mount Vesuvius Looming in the Background


Plaster Cast of a Person Who Perished Due to Extreme Heat, 570 degrees F

All but 3 of the bodies are kept in another area for a special exhibition. We saw this one through an iron fence. Most all of the statues, mosaics, and treasures are kept in the Naples National Archeological Museum which is fabulous!

There is a nice cafe within the Pompeii grounds, but we went to a small cafe just outside the entrance for pizza, pasta and salad.
Back to Sorrento for naps and pool time and then Gino’s Pizza Party on the garden patio!

Gino Leading the Orchestra


3 Chefs: Gino, his sister in law Nutnapha, and Pietro


Speck with Cantaloupe, Caprese Salad and Tomato Bruschetta



Garden Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad

Chopped Fresh Tomatoes, Onion, Basil, Garlic and Water for the Bruschetta

Nutnapha Serving Her Thai Sausage

Grilled Thai Sausages

Grilled Thai Sausage Bites with Lettuce, Cucumber and Fresh Herbs

Pizza Dough Strips with Olive Oil and Rosemary

Thai Spring Rolls Made by Nutnapha



Sweeping Clean with the Wet Broom

Pizza Margarita with Plain Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil


Sausage, Mushroom and Mozzarella

Tomato, Speck and Arugula

Gorgonzola and Speck with Arugula

Pizza Margarita




Pietro and Nutnapha



Sausage and Cheese


Margarita Pizza represents the colors of the Italian flag: red, white and green. It was developed when Queen Margarita of Spain came to Italy for a visit

Thank you Residence Santa Lucia for 2 memorable pizza party evenings!

Today we walked around Sorrento, explored the public Lemon Grove, stopped for Lemon Granitas, and had dinner at El Bufalito


Pizzeria Da Franco is a Must!

Our dinner at El Bufalito….

Pizza with Olive Oil and Herbs


Eggplant Surrounding Ricotta Cheese in a Tomato Sauce

Not Meatballs, but Cheese Balls in Tomato Sauce

Buffalo Rib Steak for Two


Ravioli Stuffed With Fish in a Lemon Seafood Sauce

Grilled Buffalo Steak


Pappardelle With Beef

It’s been a full 4 days! The rest of our week will be part 2!