The Peninsula, has a very ancient cheese tradition, and indeed it offers tours searching ancient tastes and historic wines, through products and producers, expression of the territory. Let’s start with the limoncello of Sorrento (a typical liquor made with lemons), and with the oil DOP (Protected Origin Product) of the Sorrento Coast and continuing with the pasta of Gragnano and with the dairy products of Agerola, having stops at real taste temples, and wandering about for wine cellars and crushers.
Our itinerary starts from Vico Equense, a real gastronomic heaven, where small “taste artisans” manufacture great products, as the sausage and the salami made of pig meat and orange peel, and the wonderful cheese products, such as the burrini, caciottine (little cacciotta cheese) staffed with a delicate butter puree, the caprignetti, small little balls obtained by a cheese cream, called caprino (cacio ricotta) that, after being sprinkled with aromatic herbs, they are preserved in oil. The most appreciated cheese is the famous Provolone del Monaco DOP, a seasoned cheese with spun dough with the characteristic melon shape slightly lengthened or pear shaped without head. Cheese products of this area are still homemade and there are many gastronomic shops and manifacturers where it is possible to taste and buy typical products, and it is also possible to admire the production cycle. There are also the very good trecce alle olive (olive cheese braids), and other specialties coming from Monti Lattari.
Vico is also famous because it is the country of the pizza a metro, but let’s then make another stop at Sant’Andrea, another gastronomic place, where typical products are fresh pasta, the fonduta di fiordilatte with ham and black truffle, and the squid staffed with vegetables and shrimps, an intelligent variation on a local theme.
From Vico let’s move to Meta, one of the towns where the DOP oil of the Peninsula Sorrentina is produced, and in this area there are many manufacturing oil firms of ancient origin (some crushers date-back to 1600), where it is possible to taste their oil production, to buy and go through an itinerary back to the origin of country traditions. Continuing along the peninsula we reach Piano di Sorrento.
Also here there are many historic crushers, which have little by little widended their offer, through agriturisms.
Through such an itinerary, we have the chance to taste earth products in splendid natural sceneries which alternate olive trees to fruit plants and citrus fruit. Not far away from Piano there is Sorrento, the limoncello home, a alchoholic drink made with lemon barks, alcohol, water and sugar, excellent after lunch and drank in little glasses put inside a freezer. Walking through the alleys of the center, is nice to taste, in the various “bottegucce” (little shops), a baba with limoncello and a drop of liqueur, almost making a competition among the various producers who lead tourists in the free tasting, or to taste a very special dessert surrounded by photos witnessing the passage of international vips. Not less important than the famous limoncello is the Nocino, a liqueur obtained by the infusion in alcohol of green walnut-tree hulls, and produced with Sorrento walnuts, very little walnuts, and with a pulpy and tasty kernel.
If you want to taste typical dishes you have too much to choose from lobster ravioli, oranges and walnut-trees cakes, the legendary gnocchi alia sorrentina (potato dumplings at the sorrentina way) with tomato, basil and melt fiordilatte (a kind of cheese), to the good pasta and ceci.
From Sorrento to Massalubrense let’s continue the tour among “crushers”, where the activity is of ancient and noble origins, and where an oil with the double biological certification, DOP is produced. It is also possible to observe all the phases of the drawing machine, going from the olive collection and crashing, passing through the labelling. Through different restautant points of the area it is possible to taste fantastic feeling for the palate without forgetting the quality and the details, with the help of a great love and passion for the tradition and for the culinary innovation, from the ravioli of caciotta and marjoram to the farm chicken “rediscovered”,bathed with good wines.
Then there is Agerola already famous at Galeno’s time, who thought that here it there was a very healthy milk, good to cure tuberculosis and still at present famous for the span dough cheese, from the typical fiordilatte to the caciocavallo cheese, gotten from the agerolese breed, mixed with podolica and jersey breed, raised not only in the stall but also “per foglie” (in leaves) feeding with the spontaneous vegetation growing on these mountains and conferring unique scents to the products.
For the most curious tourists we suggest a guided visit near one of the many local dairies to assist the traditional and characteristic production method.
Our wine-gastronomic tour continues to Gragnano, a small town with great traditions, whose name etymology, Praedium granium, fund of Gens Grania of Roman origin, owner of great piece of ground cultivated to cereals, it can be defined the Pasta capital.
But Gragnano is the città dei maccheroni, capital of a wonderful pasta famous all over Italy, produced already by the XVIIth century which was born from hard wheat of first quality, and today this pasta is bronze draw, with a slow and gradual procedure, in order to maintain the whole taste of wheat and all its characteristics. A stop in one of the ancient pasta producers is very evocative, and it is good to see and live the fascinating process of manifacture. Here it takes place the famous Festa dei Maccheroni, held on September, where fusilli, and rigatoni are celebrated, and cooked in different ways by pastai (pasta producers) gragnanesi, to which the preparation of a Museum of the Pasta is connected, a celebration being held every two years (cloister of San Michele Arcangelo in Via Santa Croce), where those tools and machineries useful to produce pasta are preserved, like fans and different sizes of bronze draws, as well as balances of different range. Before leaving the area, let’s not forget to taste the inimitable panuozzi, pieces of stuffed bread prepared with the same ingredients of the pizza, a tasty invention of the pizza-makers of Gragnano.
Don’t forget to taste the local wine, declaimed by Mario Soldati, a small but insuperable wine. Let’s make another visit to local wine houses, which have been bottling wine for fourty years, at the slopes of the Monti Lattari, and thanks to the committement of operators, this small, great wine, creates again the Pomps of the past and allows to find again emotions of other times.
Lettere is the last center of our itinerary, where according to a local tradition there are the best and the most beautiful vineyards, to be admired during the harvest days, when according to the ancient harvest systems, strong mules climb on impervious paths handling the clusters transport. And here we find two very good wine cellars, where wine keens will have the chance to visit the cellar. The Sorrentino family initially built casks. But there are so many “promoters” of the growth and spreading of Lettere wine, since 1860 and wine passion has always been handed down generation after generation.