The Sorrento Peninsula, and Sorrento in particolar ,is noted for its citrus production. The cultivation of oranges and lemons has ancient traditions and represents centuries of principal economic resources for the territory. The famed citrus from the peninsula are in fact exported to the major Italian markets and to the rest of Europe.
The Sorrento orange, like the famous lemon, are cultivated according to the traditional way of protecting the plants from the wind and the cold using a wooden scaffolding system – usually chestnut wood is used – with a height of 7 metres and a pergola-cover of straw.
Growing the fruit under these pergola’s gives the product a particolar uniqueness, a particolar maturation, that allows the fruit to be sold throughout the different seasons and therefore has earned a wide respect in comparison to other Italian citrus products.
The production along the Sorrento Peninsula see’s principally two ecotypes of tree: The Sorrento Yellow and the Equense Yellow.
Both types of plant have a vigorous growth and reach a height of 7 metres. The fruit they produce have an intense yellow-orange colour with a peel of medium thickness. The Sorrento oranges reveal numerous sections rich with seeds which give a generous amount of sweet juice.
The harvesting period for the Sorrento orange is done in the period from May to August. Like the lemon, the orange is also used as a base for a delicious liqueur and is noted as one of the typical local products.
Among the dates which are most deeply felt by Sorrento people, the Holy Week in Sorrento and in the whole Coast is rich in ancient rites and thousand-year usageswhich are re-proposed and much enhanced still today. On Palm Sunday in Sorrento, besides its traditional olive-tree twigs, there is the habit to bless also characteristic palms, made by hand with coloured sugared almonds, linked to a suggestive legend.
It is told, in fact, that during an attack to the coast of Sorrento by the Saracens, the inhabitants of Sorrento took shelter in the Cathedral. They prayed long for the town to be saved by the pirates’ attack: the ships were wrecked and the pirates died in the waters close to Sorrento. The only survivor was a young lady, a slave, who swam to Sorrento and, after reaching the Cathedral too, was welcomed and taken care of. The young lady, in order to thank the population, gave them the only thing she had: some coloured sugared almonds. According to the myth, this happened during Palm Sunday and since then, every year in Sorrento, palms have been made with coloured sugared almonds to be blessed together with olive-tree twigs.
The making of sugared-almond palms has become, in the course of centuries, a real art typical of Sorrento Coast. The craftsmanlike processing is meticulous and includes the making of flowers whose multi-coloured petals are made with sugared almonds which are threaded into metal sticks covered with tissue paper and decorated with any kind of lace and braid.
Besides being a beautiful natural and historic place, the Sorrentine Peninsula is famous for its gastronomy and delicious typical products. Among these products there is one of the most tasty and appreciated cheese all over the world: the Provolone del Monaco. It is produced on the Lattari Mountains, an area with a wholesome air, pasture lands and plenty of water.
In ancient times the product was brought to Naples to be sold because it was too expensive for the rural inhabitants. During the sea journey from the beach of Seiano to the port of Naples, shepherds used to wear a long mantle to shelter themselves from the cold so that they seemed real monks.That’s why the cheese is called ‘Provolone del Monaco’ (Monk’s Cheese).
Technically speaking, the Provolone del Monaco is the result of a raw milk processing. The milk comes from Agerolese cows and is rich in organoleptic properties. The cheese has a characteristic ‘pear’ shape, but it can also have a cylindrical one. After it has reached the desired shape, the pickle, drying and maturing phases follow. They are made in cellars for a period of time that goes from 4 to 18 months.