The Amalfi Coast represents a marvelous example of how agriculture has characterized the landscape. The splendid terraces of lemons stretched out along the sea have modified the steep profile of the coast creating gardens of incomparable beauty. In everyone’s mind they have been associated to the gardens of the Greek mythology where the Hesperides, the three nymphs of the evening, kept the precious tree with golden apples offered by Gea as a wedding present to Hera and Zeus. The most ancient evidence of the presence of citrus fruit on the Amalfi coast, especially in the towns of Maiori and Minori, dates back to the Roman times, as some frescoes discovered in Pompeii in the 1950’s demonstrate. Experts have recognized in those frescoes the Sfusato Amalfitano, so called because of its typical tapered shape. The Sfusato has taken on characteristics of high quality which earned the Amalfi Coast lemon IGP recognition. The lemon was appreciated for its beauty and properties since ancient times, becoming commonly used for gastronomy, as an ornament or as a popular remedy for the treatment of various symptomatologies. Even if the Amalfi Coast enjoys a very mild climate for most of the year, the lemon groves have to be protected from any drop in temperature. For that reason, during the winter they used to be covered with chestnut wood pergolas which today have been replaced by anti-hail nets. The gradual sloping down to the sea of the cultivated terraces, the striking contrast of colours offered by the plants with leaves of varying shades of green and the blue of the sea, the pervasive perfume of the lemon blossoms, make of the Amalfi coast a unique scenery which inspired poets, painters, musicians and travellers from all over the world.
Here is a quotation taken from Eugenio Montale’s poem The Lemon Trees:
“…here even we, the poorest, find a fortune – and it is the scent of the lemons …”