The day after Don Alfonso, Luke and I continued our bromance with a food and drink tour organized through Caseificio Michelangelo, a local cheese making factory. We were met at our hotel by Sara our guide who drove us to Piano di Sorrento, a couple of stations along the train line towards Naples.
First stop was Frantoio Gargiulo, an olive oil factory in Sant’ Agnello di Sorrento. We saw inside the factory but it wasn’t in operation. However they did have a great shop.
We were able to taste various infused olive oils and I bought samples flavoured with black and white truffles, porcini mushrooms, rosemary and of course lemons.
Next we went to Cassano 1875, a limoncello factory down in the marina of Piano de Sorrento, where the various stages of preparation were demonstrated.
First the yellow zest is steeped in pure alcohol for a few weeks. Then the sugar syrup is made and added and the blend is steeped again for a few weeks more. Of course we had to take a bottle of the golden nectar with us, along with a couple of jars of marmalade.
Generally you’ll notice two kinds of lemons in the shops here, although there are many more. The juicy Sfusato Amalfitano is used for making limoncello whereas the much larger and more pithy Cedro is usually just for display. Cedri are related to the Citron, one of the four original citrus fruit (along with the Mandarin, Pomelo and Papeda) from which all other citrus are derived.
After this we went to the cheese factory where Sara’s family made us welcome.
We got to have a go at making our own ‘treccia’, a braided mozzarella made of cow’s milk.
Don’t think they’ll be employing us any time soon though.
This part finished with a tasting of all the wonderful cheeses, and butter, made at Caseificio Michelangelo. Definitely my favourite bit!
The only disappointment is that we didn’t get to try Mozzarella di Bufala, but you need to be further north to experience that being made.
While we were walking back to her car, Sara pointed out one of the family’s fruit trees which had been grafted so that both oranges and lemons could be grown on the same tree!
The final stop was Cantine Stinca, a winery where we tasted a few of the local grape varieties. The Piedirosso was the winner for us and I ordered a couple of cases to send home.
Sara speaks good English and is very hospitable. Overall the tour was a good experience I’d be happy to recommend. In 2015 it cost €77 (about £60) per person for 3.5 hours. However you can pick and choose which of the four places you want to go to and make it cheaper if you wish.
Sara also has contacts for a B&B should you be looking for somewhere cheap to stay.
Next stop Naples…