Vietri Sul Mare: Picturesque town is the center for ceramics


By SANDRA JONTZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 15, 2008

If ceramics are your thing, Vietri is your town.

The picturesque town, perched midway up a mountain by the crystal blue waters of the Amalfi Coast, is the mecca, if you will, of handcrafted ceramics.

Now, it’s not exactly cheap. In fact, a huge decorative vase might run you upwards of 1,200 euros if you desire to splurge.

Vietri sul Mare, or Vietri on the Sea, is either the first town you get to on your Amalfi Coast tour or the last — depending on whether you begin following the highway to Salerno or the windy roads through Sorrento.

On the menu for purchase are dishes, limoncello sets, wine goblets, olive oil and vinegar sets, candleholders, lamps, serving platters and much more.

The ceramics are amazingly brilliantly colored, capturing themes that have become synonymous with things Mediterranean.

Merchants tout much of the ware as original, handcrafted works of art. But many bear the same exact signature markings, and there seem to be too many identical pieces not to believe that factory production might have had something to do with their creation.

Splendid as they are.

But don’t get hung up on the notion that Vietri is just where to go for ceramics.

The town includes a quaint cathedral a short walk up narrow streets, and a great little deli shop on the main drag that sells fresh salami and cheeses and a huge variety of liquors from the Campania region, such as the famed limoncello after-dinner drink, unique fennel aperitif and cream liquors made from chestnuts.

Most of the shops are along Corso Umberto I and on Via XXV Luglio.

This time of year, shops open about 10 a.m. and close for the midday lunch rest from about 1 to 3 p.m. But the hours are steadfast and some shops don’t close during the day. Shops stay open until about 7.

And heck, you might just want to take a jaunt there — about a 45-minute drive from Naples (with no traffic) — for the breathtaking views of rocky land jutting above the azure ocean.

And, of course, you should take advantage of the famed Amalfi Coast, and follow the often perilous roads that lead you to some of the most stunning views you might ever encounter.

It’s good to get away from it all

There are times when a drive outside the hustle and bustle of a city — away from chaos and work and just everyday life — can help center you and bring you back to appreciating the simple things.

And there’s a phrase to sort of capture that feeling:

La vita e bella.

Translation: Life is beautiful.

Phonetically: Lah vee-tah eh bel-lah

Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around Italy? E-mail us at: jontz@estripes.osd.mil
or novakl@estripes.osd.mil

Vietri sul Mare is a haven for shoppers seeking everything ceramic. Large vases can set you back several hundred euros. The one at left costs about 900 euros.

from around the web