La Bella Figura; la vita, l’amore, il limone

newflag1Where there is life, there is love. Love is the blood that pumps from head to toe, from knees to ankles and back through the soul of the Italian Culture. A proud love can be seen during critical examination of La Bella Figura, literally meaning The Beautiful Figure.

La Bella Figura

La Bella Figura

From regional pride to global acknowledgement, this beautiful figure could not be mistaken for anything but Italia, il Bel Pease! Often found on the receiving end of a camera lens, Italy and her culture are frequently captured and shared. A paparazzi like approach will be taken to display a snapshot of the life, love and lemons of southern Italy, particularly the southern region of Campania. From lemons to pizza, ancient ruins to the modern-day catwalk, Italy will always be the subject of a photo shoot. One must look deep to understand that southern Italy has proudly placed herself in front of the camera, no shame, just a story to tell.


Heavens Amphitheater in Pompeii!


Lemons from I Giardini di Cataldo

If one were to say Italians love to show off, an Italian would boastfully agree. However they would not necessarily say it, they would show it. Italians take advantage of the stage set for them. In the Campania region of Italy this is displayed in many ways. The lemon is the cultural center of life in the town of Sorrento and The Sorrento Peninsula.  The purity of the lemon is seen on local orchards. No chemicals are used to grow lemons. That idea is beyond forbidden. A lemon farmer in the Campania region would never risk the integrity of the family or the flavor or aroma of the lemon by compromising growth with the use of foreign chemicals. Lemons are treated like family.  A lemon farmer would always treat a damaged plant, rather than tear it down. The lemon orchards are know for the value of their product. From October-December there is a stoppage in growth. This allows for the land to heal to ensure a natural regeneration of the plant. A guest of the town of Sorrento could even get a hands on experience of walking through an orchard.



I Giardini di Cataldo, an orchard located just behind Piazza Angelina Lauro, is open to the public. Just a few blocks from the gardens production factory, guests have the opportunity to purchase the finished products made from fruits of the garden.

Beyond the orchard, a lemon is not simply found hanging gracefully from a tree, it becomes fully transformed into a locally made liqueur called Limoncello. This beverage is often referred to as the ‘Gold of Sorrento.’ Though there are several production companies, all of them maintain a local base. This alone demonstrates local pride in Sorrento’s products. Beyond the taste, the Sorrento lemon boasts aromas that would make one salivate or fight off the chills rushing up and down the spine.

sapone al limone

sapone al limone

The scent is so magnificent that Sorrento locals have turned the lemon into skin care products such as soaps and oils. Lemon olive oil and lemon marmalade are also popular products cultivated on the Sorrento Peninsula. To help further understand the value and pride of the lemon in Sorrento, know that The European Union has acknowledged the specific quality and character of the Limone di Sorrento through the concession of the IGP trademark (protected geographical status). It should finally be recognized that the lemon has been around in this region for centuries. Artifacts found in the ruins of Pompeii acknowledge that the lemon was farmed as early as 79 A.D., the year in which Mt. Vesuvius erupted and buried Pompeii. The lemon itself survived and was survived by brilliance in leaders who were able to make an asset out of a simple fruit.

When in Sorrento or anywhere in the Campania Region, il limone will be at the center of attention. Remember that Italians love to show by showing not by talking, even though they are viewed as humans who are good with words and hands. In Italy, there is a saying: Italiani, Italiani…bravi con le parole e le mani (Italians, Italians, good with words and hands). Beyond words and hands, cultural symbols such as the lemon will always stand out. Remember the work that goes into the cultivation of the Campania Region’s finest product, the families who withstood the tests of time and large corporations trying to take over. The following article about local versus corporate production was found in The NY Times just shortly before this study abroad program began.

La Bella Figura is about the show. Subsequent posts on this blog will tell a similar story that travels time and tells the world of the many more cultural artifacts of this great nation.

il limone

il limone

About the author:

Ciao ragazzi,

Mi chiamo Matthew Luisier. I’m a senior at The University of Colorado – Denver! My major is Communications with an emphasis on Public Relations and Organizational Communication. I’ve also studied psychology. So yes, four minutes into our first conversation, I’ve already attempted to figure you out! I have an affinity for sports and entertainment as well as nonprofits when it comes to career focus. Off the field I am a father of one gorgeous seven year old boy. Being away on this study abroad trip was a test of my strength. I’ve never spent more than seven days away from my son since he was born. I made it through and have so much motivation to bring him back to Italy in the very near future.

gelato al limone; la cosa più dolce in tutto il mondo, oh voglio di più

gelato al limone; la cosa più dolce in tutto il mondo, oh voglio di più

I entered this program not only to suffice my senior exit course for my degree, but to gain cultural experience in the place where I had set my sights on many years ago. This experience has filled me up with joy beyond description. I didn’t know if I could survive living in a 2 bedroom flat with 6 strangers for seventeen days, but we made it work. I think this group would have thrived anywhere.

To steal a page from my favorite musician: “Turns out not where, but who your with that really matters.” ~David J Matthews~


Thanks to Giovanni Fowler, Joel Delgado, Leah Haran, Becky Gregori, Mafe Rodriguez and Brooke Evans for putting up with me!

To my entire family, it is my prayer that you all have the chance to step foot in Italy one day. I hope I am there with you when it happens. To my father David, my mother Kathy and two of my sisters, Jenna and Laine, my heart goes out for taking care of Maddux while I was away.

Special acknowledgements to our host school, Sorrento Lingue Institute, The University of Colorado – Denver Department of Communications, department chair Dr. Stephen J. Hartnett and our instructor Dr. Julia Khrebtan




#family    #sognocosìreale,   #dreamsoreal


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