Limoncello – Drink of the Amalfi Coast

posted in: Italy Travel, Made in Italy | 29

Limoncello Photo by Margie MiklasAlmost synonymous with the Amalfi Coast is limoncello, the refreshing liqueur, aperitif, and digestivo made from the large lemons grown in Campania. While controversy exists regarding the origins of this popular drink, limoncello prevails as the drink of choice anywhere along the Amalfi Coast as well as Naples and Sorrento. Native Italians from Sorrento, Capri, and Amalfi all lay claim to limoncello’s  birthplace, and no clear evidence exists today to dispute the legends.

Recipes abound for those wishing to replicate this tart drink at home. The key ingredient is the peel from either the ovale di Sorrento, or large oval-shaped lemons grown in the Sorrento area, or the sfusato amalfitano lemon from the Amalfi area of Campania. For this reason, attempts to make limoncello at home are never quite the same as the limoncello for purchase in Campania.

Lemons on the Amalfi Coast, Italy Photo by Margie MiklasThe four basic ingredients in the aperitif include:

  •  the zest of 6 or or 7 large lemons
  • 1 quart pure grain alcohol or vodka
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar

Flavored by the zest of lemons, limoncello is a favorite among locals as well as tourists.

The words here are from a page in Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, my recently published photo book.

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie Miklas

If you like this post, you may be interested in my book, available either on, or directly through me. I’d be happy to send you an autographed copy for the same price ($24.99) plus shipping ($5.01). International shipping costs are higher. Contact me at

Have you ever had limoncello? Or tried a recipe yourself at home? I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

Ciao and grazie.

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29 Responses

  1. I made limoncello for the 1st time as a favor at our wedding and we toasted after the ceremony.

  2. The first time I had this drink was at a restaurant in St,. Mark’s Square. It’s delicious.

  3. Jeanie Beck

    I have that exact bottle in your top photo in my freezer!! Yummy!!!

  4. Looks so refreshing – wish I had one!

  5. There is something about an Italian restaurant that does not bring just a glass of limoncello (or grappa) but the bottle and leaves it at your table.

    • Yes that is really something special. They know how to do the extra little things that make you feel at home❤️ Grazie for sharing

  6. Elliana Sacco Chapman

    Ciao Marge. Here in North Florida I make limoncello most years from my myer lemon tree. It takes 80 days and is quite smooth. It uses equal parts grain alcohol and vodka. The secret, as with alot of great food, is time. The peels sit in the alcohol in a cool dark place for 40 days. Then after they are removed and strained a few times you cook a simple syrup of water and sugar and when cool add it to the alcohol and it goes back in hiding for another 40 days. Email me and I will send you the recipe. I will be staying on Ischia with Italian friends in September so perhaps I will learn some more secrets.

    • It seems like you have uncovered the secret to a great limoncello, Elliana! Enjoy your fall trip to Ischia! I would love your recipe.. I will send you an email. Grazie for sharing.

  7. Thanks for the recipe, but even more for the explanation about why my limoncello is never as good as I imagine it will be. Although… a friend in Arizona made some wonderful limoncello with her homegrown lemons, picked perfectly ripe so there is hope for us here in America, too!

    • Thanks Kathy. From some of the comments here on and Facebook, I see that a lot of people do make their own limoncello at home and with good results I guess it’s the next best thing to being in Italy

  8. I love limoncello but wouldn’t attempt to make it at home, it would never compare to the real thing. Luckily my favorite, authentic, Italian owned restaurant in Phoenix makes their own and provides a complimentary digestivo to each customer over 21…it’s amazing and a great way to end a fantastic meal.

    • Thanks Tony. Very cool. Awesome that they offer it as complimentary! I have a friend who lives in Scottsdale and frequents an authentic Italian restaurant known as Andreoli. Are you familiar with it?

      • I have heard good things, but have never been myself. I will have to check it out. If your friend is not familiar with Pomo, have he/she check it out. The downtown Phoenix location offers the complimentary limoncello.

  9. We have a bottle at home, you can get in the UK, or at least you could until we decided to leave the EU!

  10. Reblogged this on Make Italy Yours.

  11. Anonymous

    Amalie coast is the most amazing sight and lime cello one of the most amazing drinks, all amazing Italy

  12. You have reminded me of the fresh lemonade that I had when on the Amalfi coast road!

  13. I am so eager to visit the Amalfi after reading your books 🙂 Love limocello.

    Quick question- if you only had 1 week in Italy which place would you choose to stay in? Somewhere you already been to or a new place?

    • TY Ishita. I am eager for you to visit this special place too. For me if I had only a week in Italy, since I have been there so many times, I think I’d go back to one of my favorite places because it seems it’s ever enough. By the way that us a great question!

      • Thank you Margie 🙂 Yes I know what you mean although I might club it with a new place 😉

  14. have seen it served over ice cream! I walked by the store/factory in Sorrento daily for 3 months. the smell was lovely

  15. Who doesn’t love a good limoncello? I haven’t ever tried to make it myself, but my father has (with American lemons) and he gets quite a nice flavor. I’ll have to ask him, but I seem to remember his saying that he puts in double the amount of zest than in the recipe he had from Italy.

I'm always interested in your thoughts, so please leave a comment.