An afternoon at Villa Massa sipping lemon basil cocktails while overlooking the Mediterranean is the perfect way to spend some time. Learning how they make the limoncello was even more fun.
You might remember that I posted about Villa Massa a couple of years ago. This trip was a little different than the last one. For starters, we were already in Southern Italy, so no car ride from the Naples train station to the company, just a short cab ride, and this time included my in-laws.
This tour included a couple more individuals from the company including their groundsman to explain more to us about the growing process of the amazing Sorrento lemons. These things are almost magical. If you’ve had a Meyer lemon, you know how different lemons are capable of tasting. Well, a Sorrento lemon doesn’t taste like a Meyer lemon, but it doesn’t taste like a regular lemon either. Some of them can be the size of footballs and they have a slightly sweeter taste than a regular lemon, but they still have that lemony taste, not the more flowery Meyer lemon flavor. I should also mention that the lemon trees bear fruit year round…there really is no Sorrento lemon season. Some of Villa Massa’s lemons are grown on site (many are not). But they are all grown the same way. The trees are planted in rows and there are stakes every so many feet. The stakes are made from chestnut wood as are the smaller woven mats. The mats are used to cover and protect the lemons from harsh sun (like what they get in the summer months). Many places are beginning to use plastic netting because there are only a couple of older men still out there producing the original chestnut mats. In the photo below, you can see the posts and mats.
Oh yeah you can also see the view. That’s the Isle of Capri off in the distance of that picture. This is at the very top of the orchard where they have a beautiful reception area. I told Craig he was lucky we were already married or we’d be getting married right there.
While we were up there, we asked lots more questions about (seemingly) everything. The people of Villa Massa were generous enough to pour us their newest summer cocktail. To say that we became quickly hooked would be an understatement. Something that was even funnier were my in-laws. We had been poo-pooing most of their glasses of limoncello that they had wanted us to try. They kept telling us how good they were. We had been telling them to wait until they tasted the really good stuff. I was gazing off into the sea when I heard my mother law loudly say “now I know what you were talking about.” So no, not all limoncello is the same and YES, you can find Villa Massa limoncello here in the states. While I sometimes make limoncello, it doesn’t compare to the Sorrento lemons.
When buying your limoncello, look for the seal that has a little logo on it that says limon de Sorrento (they have their own appellation of control – like champagne).
I thought I’d share this summer sparkling cocktail with you so that you could enjoy it too.
- 1½ Ounces Villa Massa Limoncello
- 3-4 Basil Leaves, torn
- Tonic Water
- Fill a glass with ice (a red wine glass works perfectly for this cocktail).
- Add the limoncello.
- Add in the torn basil leaves.
- Top off with tonic water.
- Give a little stir to combine.
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