Don Ciccio & Figli
Distiling.com: Interview with Francesco Amodeo of Don Ciccio & Figli
Edible DC: Celebrate National Italian Heritage Month with Don Ciccio & Figli
Generational producers of Italian liqueurs, from the bitter to the sweet, Don Ciccio & Figli was born in the old country in 1883 and is now reborn in the USA.
The tale of Don Ciccio & Figli begins on another continent, and in many ways, in another world. In 1852, in the ancient Italian hamlet Atrani clinging to the rocky coast of Amalfi, a child is born. He is Vincenzo, known to friends and family as ‘N’gioletto’, and by his hand, the great liqueur recipes of the Amodeo family come into being. In the summer of 1883, Vicenzo becomes the first—but not the last Amodeo—to create the finest liqueurs on the Amalfi Coast. From bitter Amaro to sweet Limoncello, the family liqueurs become a part of day-to-day life.
For 50 years, the birth and growth of the Amodeo liqueurs proceed whimsically, like a fresh breeze warmed by the Mediterranean sun. Then there is The Great War. Under the dark cloud, the Amodeos press on, crafting their liqueurs as best they can. But finally the stills run dry, the recipes are put under lock and key, and the family rolls up its sleeves for the monumental effort to rebuild. Little do they know, there will be yet another war to weather.
The family craft lies dormant, but it is never forgotten. In 1951, Francesco Amodeo (the ‘Don Ciccio’ this company name honors) brings the liqueurs back to life. Francesco was a mechanic by wartime necessity but with artisanal liqueur-making running in his blood. He joins forces with Giovanni Porpora who is a falegname – a carpenter of exquisite skill. Together, they build a small and thriving distillery in the hills of Furore, near Positano and Capri. The liqueurs are reborn, crafted exactly as they had been until 1931.
And so the family lives and loves, growing from strength to strength, until an act of God necessitates the second rebirth. In 1980 a crippling earthquake in the Irpinia district reduces the distillery to rubble. The earth swallows entire groves of lemon trees. All seems lost for the family business.
Leap forward to 2012. Five thousand miles from Italy, and 32 years after the earthquake of Irpinia shook the family craft to a standstill, Don Ciccio & Figli liqueurs flow again. With over a century of family history in the business, at the age of 29, Francesco ‘Don Ciccio Jr.’ Amodeo starts Don Ciccio & Figli in Washington, D.C. Today, when you taste any liqueur in the range, from the bitter to the sweet, you experience the rebirth of the spirit of the Amodeo family from the Amalfi Coast, just as it was in 1883.