If you happen to be around the Italian Amalfi coast, Sorrento, Capri, Salerno, or even in Napoli, you might be interested to buy a plate or two to bring home to remind you of the sunny days and stunning views and beautiful places.
Of course, you can buy ceramics in any of the places mentioned above. We just hope you have managed to get something better than the usual touristic mass produce. Luckily, there are a lot of beautiful pieces waiting for those who are looking for them.
But if you are a collector, a ceramics aficionado, or just love something authentic and fun on your table – go to Vietri Sul Mare. And yes – that will be a small story to tell your guests back home, not just a lovely handmade plate.
There are a lot of places in Italy where the ceramics are made Artisanal tableware, by hand or otherwise. However, historically these places were mainly clustered around clay deposits, and even if the deposits are gone or logistics dictate otherwise, majority of producers stay because of tradition, centuries of branding and, of cause, because very often it is a very small family business – they just happen to live there for many-many years or even centuries.
One of these “clusters” is Vietri.
“Vietri ceramics” should be made in Vietri Sul Mare, a very small town on cliffs facing the sea right to the west of Sorento. Well, it is the part of the fun, the flavor and the story behind the item. But you should also know that same Vietri ceramics can be found around the corner. Though not 100% Vietrian, they are the same, made by same people under same technologies, and often on same plate blanks. For example: in Cava de’ Tirreni, which is a small town on the mountain above Vietri. We have found some very good artistic workshops there too, along with a nice day trip and good taverns. But back to Vietri.
Just a bit of history of the place.
Vietri’s origins can be traced back to the Etruscans and their ancient town of Marcina. Archaeological finds on the place refer to tombs with Corinthian style ceramic items. The name that was used during Longobard period – “Veteri” – suggests the existence of an ancient town. During XI century it was a part of Salerno, then belonged to Cava de’ Tirreni until XIX century.
The production of pottery became a specialization since medieval time (the majolica floors of the most ancient churches of the Coast have all been produced in Vietri). But it is between the XIX and XX century that the process becomes almost industrial.
You do not necessarily need a car for a trip here, as you can find the majority of shops and workshops on a single stretch of a paved street that starts at small crossroads facing the sea and goes up the slope through the town – Corso Umberto I. Just do not forget to look in the side streets too. If you proceed further on Corso Umberto I, you will come to the quite interesting ceramic clad building – Palazzo della Ceramica Solimene.
We will not try to list the workshops worth visiting here – there are really a lot of them, and majority can be easily found. Neither will we advertise any. But there are places (only in our opinion) where you can find something a bit special. So we have to mention them, sorry.
On Corso Umberto I. we would suggest you visit Artemika Vietri – a small workshop with some interesting plates (No. 63). Same street (No. 148) – Ceramiche Bisogno – all traditional designs you can find, plus a lot of extras, and they do it right there. This is enough of opinions, the rest you have to discover by yourself.