Flavors of Calabria: Amarelli Licorice

Amarelli Licorice - spezzatina - image from Amarelli.itIf you haven’t tried Amarelli licorice, you simply haven’t tasted Calabria.

The Amarelli family in Rossano began harvesting and selling le radici di liquirizia (licorice root) in the 16th century, more formally in 1731. Today, the Amarelli licorice empire remains one of the oldest, most storied, family-owned confectionary companies in all of Europe. In fact, Amarelli is one of only forty-four members of the Henokiens, a prestigious association of businesses that have been family-owned for 200 years or more and whose descendants still run the company.

What’s the Fuss About Licorice?

The licorice plant, native to this part of northern Calabria on the Gulf of Taranto, is noted for its medicinal purposes in easing sore throats, coughs, liver problems, chest pain, and symptoms of food poisoning. It is also widely regarded as having both anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.

Of course, most of us just know that licorice tastes darn good whether as candy or as a flavoring in food and teas.

The Amarelli Licorice Museum

Il Museo della Liquirizia “Giorgio Amarelli,” situated in the family’s 15th-century stone mansion across the road from the factory, pays homage to the company’s founder while offering its 40,000 annual visitors a peek into the historic operation from original documents and equipment to period clothes and production displays. The museum even has an Italian postage stamp in its honor.

Amarelli Licorice Museum by Museo Amarelli (e Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)

Both the museum and factory offer guided tours—and the scent of licorice in the air is incredible.

If you’ve never had Amarelli licorice, check out the hard candies packaged in adorable little tins that recall an earlier, more innocent time. They make excellent gifts for people back at home, too — small, portable, and delicious!

Amarelli Licorice - confettata - image from Amarelli.it

When you pop one in your mouth, be ready for an absolute flavor explosion. The taste is much more bitter and intense than the mass-produced black licorice whips you may be used to, but also purer and, somehow, inexplicably Calabrian.

Un vero sapore della Calabria. A real taste of Calabria.

Have you ever tried Amarelli licorice?

* * * * * * * *

The above is an excerpt of my book, 52 Things to See & Do in Calabria, and is also my contribution for this month’s Italy Blogging Roundtable topic, FLAVOR. Please check out the rest of the Roundtable posts as well:
Italy Blogging Roundtable

  1. Jessica of Italy Explained – 7 of Italy’s Weirdest Foods
  2. Rebecca of Brigolante – Local Flavor: Best Restaurants in Assisi
  3. Melanie of Italofile –Five Favorite Flavors From Ferrara and Modena
  4. Laura of Ciao Amalfi – Trattoria da Lorenzo | Excellent Seafood Restaurant Overlooking Ravello
  5. Georgette of Girl in Florence – Barely Bigger Than A Breath, Tiny Spaces That Pack A Punch in Florence
8 Beans of Wisdom to “Flavors of Calabria: Amarelli Licorice”
  1. 02.16.2017

    Those tins are absolutely adorable, great post Michelle! I had no idea that licorice has so many medicinal properties. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan but I think I need to start easing my way back into this world again..

    [Reply]

    michelle Reply:

    I’m not a *huge* fan of the flavor, but every now and again it’s a nice treat. I have developed a love for fennel here, though, and that has a similar taste…great with cannellini beans and/or pasta!

    [Reply]

  2. 02.16.2017

    I second the motion! This licorice is excellent! It’s for connoisseurs – and anyone who wants to know what liquirizia really tastes like.

    [Reply]

    michelle Reply:

    It’s a far cry from black jelly beans hahaha 😉

    [Reply]

  3. 03.12.2017

    That’s a nice post. Thank you for sharing.

    [Reply]

  4. 03.17.2017

    Great blog! I wonder if I can find this licorice online? Would love to try it as I love the “natural” licorice I’ve been able to find here in the US. (Can’t even compare to that fake strawberry licorice they sell here!)

    [Reply]

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Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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Homemade apple butter
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Calabrian sausage and fava beans
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