If there are people on this planet more biased than the Italians, I haven’t met them yet. Honestly. But things are actually a bit worse than that: they are in fact, regionally biased. I was just brave enough to say in my previous post the Neapolitan pizza was the best in the world because I’m safely sat behind a computer screen. Otherwise, this would have been a well-kept secret to avoid endless discussions and heated arguments.
Because, obviously, for a Roman, the best pizza is the Roman one. For a Sicilian, it’s the Sicilian pizza that deserves the first place. For a Sardinian… You got the gist. And so on for all the twenty regions. They take their products and traditions very seriously, so much so, that you shouldn’t expect any critical thinking or criticism acceptance from them at all. Everything they make/produce is amazing, end of the conversation (not really, as I said the “conversation” will never end). Don’t even try to convince them of the opposite. Just nod.
Despite thinking their way of standing by what is theirs is admirable and really enjoying the gastronomic competition between the regions (because it’s not only about the pizza, it’s also about the pasta, the bread, the cheeses, the wines, etc., etc.), this Italian characteristic can bring some tension to unaware tourists/travellers. Of course, it had to happen to me. Actually, with my boyfriend.
THE SOUR HALF
The lower half of Italy is blessed with the warmer Mediterranean weather, what makes the perfect climate to grow beautiful and juicy lemons that I’ve always known as Sicilian lemons, but discovered, later on, they’re not called that here, unless you are a Sicilian. I guess you can realise the reason why by now? How could a Pugliese accept the fact the limoncello they drink as an after-dinner digestive is not made with actual Pugliese lemons? Better to just omit the naughty word.
The Campanians were the ones who took the lemony competition beyond. They created a pumped version of the Sicilian lemon with double and sometimes, triple its size and called it “Sfusato Amalfitano”, as a way of telling the Sicilians “yours are juicier but ours are bigger”, I suspect.
LEMONS, LEMONS & MORE LEMONS
Sorrento is one of the most charming towns on the Amalfi Coast. Located just 30 minutes away from Naples and easily reachable by train, Sorrento is a very good alternative option to base yourself when visiting the area. It’s not as chaotic as Naples and it’s far more beautiful. I wish I knew that beforehand though…
However, it wasn’t the charm that made Sorrento so memorable to me. It was actually the lemons. We all know that touristic places take advantage of what they make best, so the visitors can take home a bit of it, but in Sorrento, they take this habit to the next level: I’ve never seen so many lemons together in my whole life. They are absolutely everywhere, in every single shape, form and material. Lemons, lemons and more lemons! I even dreamt about them when I closed my eyes.
Lemon fruit, lemon drink, lemon chocolate, lemon soap, lemon magnet, lemon apron, lemon clock… And everything else you can imagine. You’re capable of finding anything in the lovely Sorrento’s historical centre streets. I mean it.
GINGER? NO, LEMON!
If life gives you lemons, no matter what, you should never ask for ginger. That was the mistake my boyfriend made when we were approached on the street by an ice cream seller. Having fell in love with ginger ice cream a few days earlier in Rome (regionalisms again!), he innocently asked the ice cream seller if he had ginger ice cream, which the seller promptly, angrily and gesticulating answered we were in Sorrento and for that reason we HAD to have, yes you guessed, lemon ice cream!
I could only drag my boyfriend safely out of the dispute after five minutes of lemons and personal taste arguments, which despite having been really amusing to watch, was also pretty pointless considering neither of them were willing to change their minds. Both stuck with their own obsessions.
Exaggerations and sour incidents apart, my truest wish is that this regional bias never ends really. And more incredible wines, cheeses and bread keep being made. A little competition is always healthy. In this case, especially for the spectators.
Have you been to Sorrento? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments!