SORRENTO, Italy - I open dozens of exquisite music boxes, listening to the tinkling, nostalgic tunes. Each music box is composed of beautiful veneers cut and arranged in patterns and pictures. It feels like I am in a world of vintage toys.
Notturno Intarsio (www.notturnointarsio.com; free admission) is a workshop in Sorrento that makes inlaid wood or marquetry items in the traditional style.
Delicate slivers are cut with superfine saws from black walnut, poplar, mahagony, olive, maple and all manner of woods. From this profusion of colours and textures, craftsmen create objects of desire. I see a trio of nested tables with elegant legs, for instance, and backgammon tables.
I choose a music box of silky white ash dyed a soft red, with an inlaid-wood design of a mandolin. The tune it plays, Torna a Surriento, is a Neapolitan song.
It is my memento from Sorrento, and will replace my mother's broken music box, a wedding gift she displayed for decades in a curio cabinet.
Sorrento is peppered with artisanal workshops and we walk to another one that makes limoncello. The sunny fragrance of the liqueur fills the tiny, gleaming factory of I Giardini de Cataldo (www.igiar dinidicataldo.it). There are vats of pure alcohol where lemon peel soak.
"Limoncello" is a protected name from the Sorrento peninsula, so check for this information on the label if you want to buy the real deal. The ingredients should simply be lemon peel, alcohol and sugar, we are told. Also, taste the limoncello at room temperature.
We sip samples of limoncello, then start shopping. I buy limoncello, lemon marmalade and candy shaped like miniature lemons. I cannot transport the terraced lemon groves of Sorrento and southern Italy to Singapore, but I can take its flavours home with me.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.