We tumbled excitedly off the bus, after a short drive from our hotel up into the picturesque Sorrentine hills. Being one of the first optional evening excursions on our tour, we were unsure what to expect as the bus wend its way up a narrow road, dotted with small terraced farms along the way. We were dropped off at the farm gates. As we walked down the lane we enjoyed the sight of cows eyeing us off and geese roaming around their pens. All this was magnificently framed under the shade of lemon trees. Olive, orange, mandarin and walnut trees were also scattered throughout the farm. It was the lemon trees, however, that stamped their authority on this idyllic spot with their heady citrus fragrance and the beauty of the sunlight dappled through their leaves.
Lemon trees on La Sorgente, Sorrento. Photo by Esther Colavecchio
Rosa, our English speaking guide, and one of the owners of the farm, informed us there were four acres of lemon trees on the farm which made the best limoncello in Italy. We would soon try some and see for ourselves. The farm also produced their own wine and we would have the pleasure of enjoying it too.
Rosa, who was all smiles and was genuinely delighted to see us, showed us the antique olive press and talked about the history of the farm, of which she was a third-generation Marciano family member. Rosa also talked about the mozzarella, a product of the curious cows we’d encountered on our way in. We met the aptly nicknamed ‘Maria Mozzarella’ who demonstrated just how she made the mozzarella and ricotta cheese every day of the year, which explained why she had such strong arms as well as an expert hand.
It was soon dinnertime. Our group scattered around several tables in the covered al fresco dining area. Purple pungent floral aromas filled the air. The last light from the day’s fading summer sun danced and shimmered through the trees and vine covered trestles.
Hydrangeas at La Sorgente, Sorrento. Photo by Esther Colavecchio
Our meal began with a traditional antipasto plate loaded with eggplant, pastrami, salami, prosciutto ricotta and farm grown tomatoes that were the best we’d ever tasted. They were so fresh, tart, and succulent that even John, having grown up with authentic Italian home-grown tomatoes, proclaimed them to be superb. Pitchers of red wine were accompanied by still water and soft drink, for the kids, and the whole course was complimented with bread and olive oil. To follow came a rich and creamy penne, with zucchini and ricotta, which was also fresh and flavoursome. Since I was happy to partake in plenty of the wine, since the pitchers were constantly being re-filled, it would be remiss of me not to sing the praises of the wine. It was a simple, rich country wine with an amazing sweet, serene taste that was an obvious expression of the sheltered piece of earth from which it came.
Antipasto plate, La Sorgente, Sorrento. Photo by Esther Colavecchio
It was time to get up and moving around a bit after all this fabulous food. We were invited to the pizza cooking area for our next demonstration. The kids had the first turn at making pizzas. This provided a wonderful chance to take some brilliant footage of the kids having an absolute ball learning to make a pizza each, from scratch, under the watchful eye of an authentic Italian expert. ‘Maria Mozzarella’ was patient and professional as she showed the kids how it was done and superbly supervised them as they placed their pizza delicacies in and out of the wood-fired oven.
Kids showing their pizza making prowess, La Sorgente, Sorrento. Photo by Esther Colavecchio
A pizza maker, La Sorgente, Sorrento. Photo by Peta Hill.
The adults were given their chance to make pizza too, wearing comical and slightly rude aprons which only added to the hilarity and joviality of the night. We, of course, had the chance to eat these pizzas and were all suitably impressed and savoured the taste of the kids’ (and adults) creations.
Somehow we made room for dessert, which was a limoncello pound cake topped with a homemade lemon marmalade. This was the point at which we also tried the limoncello itself. Both the cake and the liqueur were delightfully decadent, full of lightness and tantalising taste. This topped off a fantastic meal. All who participated in this rustic, rural and authentically Italian night were grinning from ear to ear throughout. We made for a very merry bunch and sang in harmony with crickets in the trees as we laughed our way back down the hill to where our bus was waiting.
Monday, July 7th, 2014
Written by Esther Colavecchio
This experience was an optional excursion as part of our Trafalgar ‘Best of Italy’ tour. We signed up for most of the optional experiences during our tour and hopefully this post shows exactly WHY doing the optional excursions is a must do. The Trafalgar website promotes the evening as follows:-
“Sorrento Farmhouse Dinner
A scenic drive takes you through the Sorrentino countryside to an 18th century Olive Oil mill. You’ll enjoy a guided visit of the gardens, mill and wine cellar, followed by a simple meal of traditional pizza and wine. And there’ll also be the chance to see how mozzarella and pizza are made.” https://www.trafalgar.com/aus/tours/best-of-italy