Yesterday I received an email from a reader with a very good question:
We have been longtime readers of your books but writing you for the first time, as we recently discovered limoncello and would like to know if good limoncello from Sorrento or Amalfi could be found in Rome or Naples, as our itinerary doesn’t give us time to go there directly!
Here I’m going to depart from my usual advice to “buy from the source.” (However, if you have time and you want to buy the best artisanal limoncello in Italy, you should STILL go to Sorrento and buy directly from a producer who can introduce you first-hand to the famous ovale di Sorrento lemon.) But let’s face it… Most people are on a tight schedule when they travel.Yes, you can find “good” artisanal limoncello in Naples and Rome. You are probably better off in Naples than in Rome, since Naples sits on the bay nearest to the Amalfi Coast and you will get a better selection.
You should steer away from the tourist shops near the cruise ports in Naples and along the main tourist drags in Rome. Some of these specialize in limoncello and lemon-related products, but the quality can be hit or miss. Instead, keep your eyes out for a good enoteca (wine shop) or one of those little shops that sells high-end prepared foods and specialty culinary items. Ask the owner for a personal recommendation. Aside from the more industrial producers like Luxardo and Petrone, there is a tremendous variety of limoncello made by small, family producers. Many of the culinary shop owners will have hand-picked a few favorites to carry in their stores, and that’s usually a good bet.
Good luck limoncello-hunting in Italy! Salute!
For more on authentic shopping in Italy, including much more on limoncello, check out my guides: