Sfusato Amalfitano IGP lemon
The cultivation of lemons
Another part of the citizens of Cetara, especially those who populate the neighborhoods of the Casale, devote themselves with the same prodigality of sailors to agriculture. The citrus groves and vineyards are structured as pergolas built with low chestnut poles and insist on steep areas along the slopes of Mount Falerio. These cultivations are arranged in terraces delimited by streaks of living stone that allow a perfect adherence to the territory, exploited with particular attention, aiming above all to its preservation.
The pride of the sector is certainly the cultivation of lemons and in particular the classic lemon of the Amalfi Coast, the Sfusato Amalfitano, which is on the verge of extinction and which is perhaps right here its ideal climate to continue to offer a quality and fragrance that makes it recognizable on all Italian and foreign markets. From the tree is collected together with a small part of the branch with leaves that represent another element of typical coastal product. The unit yields of this production are low and reach about 200 quintals per hectare. Cultivated in the classic terraces that cover the lower part of Mount Faleiro and the hills that surround the village are meticulously cared for and covered in winter: years ago with dry branches or “pagliarelle” to avoid freezing in the cold months of winter, while today they use the classic black sheets that preserve the product even better and make the work of farmers in Cetara less difficult. Thanks to these roofing systems, production reaches the months of July and August and sometimes even September. Naturally connected to this fruit there is also the moment of transformation in the typical liqueur of these areas the limoncello that also in Cetara has its characteristic production. One of the most ancient and tiring crafts of the Coast was undoubtedly that of the carrier of lemons. An activity rich in sacrifices that consisted in loading large bags made of chestnut wood covered with cloth inside, which could contain between 50 and 70 kg. of the precious lemons of the Amalfi Coast. From the crags of the Lattari Mountains came down these skilled carriers who had the feet of the “cioce” formed of padded fabric tied with twine at the ankles and a well-padded cloth headgear on which they supported jute sacks to protect the head and back and often proceeded with the help of chestnut sticks down to the valley where the lemons were loaded on carts bringing the precious cargo to the regional markets or it was shipped to more distant markets. Currently it seems that in Cetara there are 4 or 5 women who carry out this activity. In memory of these ancient traditions was installed in 2008, near the church of St. Mary of Constantinople located in the district of Casale, a bronze statue of the artist Battista Marello depicting precisely the carrier of lemons.
The period of greatest affirmation and expansion of citrus cultivation was the beginning of the 20th century when the agrarian bourgeoisie, after the acquisition of the uncultivated lands of the state property and the church, was engaged in a great effort of crop conversion that consisted mainly in the transformation into citrus groves of much of the coastal area. The establishment of the existing system of terraces, subjected the owners to a substantial financial commitment, effort that can only be explained by the high profitability of the investment. The harvest, carefully selected according to the size of the fruit, protected by tissue paper and encased in special containers, was sent to foreign markets (in particular London) by shipping on steamers.
After World War II, lemon cultivation spread to the Iberian Peninsula, Greece, Israel, Lebanon and even California, causing the export of Amalfi lemon to be stopped. The internal market remained. In fact, until the mid-60s the lemons of Cetara and Costiera were sent massively to the general markets of Rome, but in the following years the decline was increasingly serious and rapid.
The Sfusato Amalfitano
The lemon Sfusato Amalfitano IGP is one of the other typical elements of the local tradition. The terraces for the cultivation of the precious citrus fruit, unfortunately increasingly abandoned, have designed the places and the environment throughout the Amalfi Coast, contributing to form that unique UNESCO World Heritage. Sfusato Amalfitano has a pale yellow skin and has a high quality of juice (27-28%) very rich in natural aromas compared to common lemon and also has a low presence of seeds. From the tree is collected together with a small part of the branch with leaves that represent another element of typical coastal product. The unit yields of this production are low and reach about 200 quintals per hectare.
With its large size, Sfusato Amalfitano leaves its mark for the persistence of the perfume and the pleasantness of the taste, so different from the typical tartness of other lemons. To taste, it will be a pleasant surprise.