Liquori ok


The “spirits” of Italy  (Spirituous Italy)

Your pleasure with drinking is as big as your thirst (“… Si gode tanto del ber quant’è grande la sete”). That’s what Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), the greatest Italian poet, wrote in the XXI cantica of the  Purgatory in his Divine Comedy. In the same period, the “spirituous” drinks started their relentless journey towards fame.

Today, the most famous Italian liqueur is Limoncello, whose history develops from a series of anecdotes with a father-wood disputed among the inhabitants of Sorrento, Amalfi and Capri in a patch of land of few kilometres in the first years of the twentieth century. The typical yellow liqueur is very good with sweets too and has an alcoholic content that doesn’t exceed 36°. Then there are the “sun and night spirits”.
The Mandarinetto of Sicily belongs to the former ones: it is produced using the mandarin that ripens in the warm land of Sicily. The Nocino was born from the dark, it is one of Modena’s landmarks (Emilia Romagna). The tradition wants that it was born in the Estense Duchy, during the night of S. Giovanni – on July the 24th when the peasants used to meet to pick unripe walnuts covered in dew. The elixir of Sardinia is the Mirto, a 30° liqueur that is produced from a cold hydro-alcoholic maceration of dark violet berries or from leaves: from the former you’ll get the red mirto, from the latter you’ll get the white mirto. The essence of Sambuca is taken from the aniseed’s seeds: it is the pride of the town of Civitavecchia (Lazio), and owes its invention to Luigi Manzi who welcomed Garibaldi in his Baths (in the year 1864), and offered him a liqueur called  Sambuca. A liqueur with an apparently French name is the Genepy, but it is a typical product of Valle d’Aosta and it is made from the infusion of different plants among which the Artemisia Genepy, followed by the Artemisia Glacialis, both alpine plants. On the other hand, the zafferano, together with other seventy types of herbs gives its typical color to Strega liqueur, produced in Benevento (Campania). The origins of its name? In 1860, when it was born, the town was an enclave of the Papal State and ironically the meeting place of witches from all over the world. At least according to the legend.


Did you know that…
There are plenty of grappa liqueurs in Italy and they have been produced throughout the whole Italian boot  since the year 1000. A top city? Bassano del Grappa, in Veneto! The grappa liqueur is made from the pomace distillation – including the seeds – pressed during the grape, it can reach an alcoholic content between 37,50° and 60°.

Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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