I do like Limoncello. (July 2012)

I developed a taste for Limoncello when we were staying in Rome, with a community of priests, in 2005.

They offered us this magic liqueur, as an after dinner ‘digestivo’, and I have been a fan ever since.

So much so that I made a batch, some of which is sitting in storage, waiting our return.

The Amalfi Coast is the home of all things lemon, especially Limoncello.

Apart from bottles of Limoncello, in all shapes and sizes, you can by aprons, with the recipe printed on the front, lemon scented soap, ceramics adorned with lemons, tablecloths and even the famous Sorrento Lemons themselves.

They are the size of a small grapefruit and baskets of them line the streets.

We stayed in Amalfi, put the car into a garage, and relied on the local bus to negotiate the frighteningly narrow and windy roads to Sorrento and Ravello. We also took the much more sedate ferry to Capri for a day.

On the return journey we saw scrub fires racing up the cliffs, just outside of Positano.

Ravello is more refined with an annual music festival, school of fine art and the Italianate villas that have become hotels, restaurants or both.

One of these is the Villa Cimbrone, a property that originally dates back to late Roman times but was more recently made famous by Earnest William Becket or Lord Grimthorpe.

Earnest was one of the aesthetics and intellectuals who made the Grand Tour through Italy’s a youth. He returned to Ravello, after the death of his wife, and in 1904 bought the rundown estate.

With the help of Nicola Manis from Ravello he brought it back to life.

As a result Villa Cimbrone is a combination of English and Italian landscape architecture with formal and informal gardens.

Unlike Sardinia, the English speaking tourists are on the Amalfi Coast in force. There are coaches lining the parking lots, cruise ships in the ports and dozens of luxury yachts peppered across the bays.

The old parts of these coastal towns are certainly worth seeing as is the natural beauty of the rugged coastline. However I just cannot see the value in coming here for a beach holiday, which is what a lot of Europeans do.

There are no real beaches, well not as we know them. They are either pebbles, pontoons or a grey shale.

Admittedly, our Sorrento, on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, doesn’t have Mount Vesuvius across the bay, which we climbed on our last day, or shops bursting with Limoncello, but the beaches are better.

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