Vietri sul Mare, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Written by Missy Johnston
Located along the Amalfi Coast at the beginning of the Sorrento Peninsula is Vietri sul Mare, Italy, otherwise known as the “mother lode” of Italian hand painted ceramics. The main road of town is lined with shops and “factorias”, where ceramic objects of all sizes, shapes and purposes, are being made, hand painted and sold.
Vietri sul Mare is on the southern side of the Sorrento Peninsula, just at the beginning of this promontory and to the west of Salerno. While the town is on the water and a short harbor visit might be possible, the closest real dockage is in Salerno, just to the east on the coast.
Craftsmen in this town have been producing ceramics since the Medieval period and ceramic production is still the main town industry. In fact the production of ceramics is so important to the town and the craftsmen located there, that the brand name is now protected and only ceramics actually made in Vietri can carry the town name.
While many different patterns are painted under the auspices of being Vietri Ceramics, as it is not the pattern, but the town in which the ceramics are painted that qualify the ceramics, most contain the Mediterranean local colors of blue, green and yellow and often are painted with lemons, or Mediterranean marine life seen locally. You may see the painters hard at work painting these designs in part of a shop, such as at the Iovine Shop where a hand painted dinner service sold internationally is created with a distinctive marine life design.
It is a fascinating experience to not only see such a wide and lovely variety of hand painted pottery, but to also be able to watch the various craftsmen while they paint. For an additional cost, special orders are accepted hand painted with custom touches, such as a set of dinner ware, hand painted with your family name added. And, as always, when shopping at the source, the prices are well worth taking the time to come to this little town.
What to do in Vietri sul Mare, Italy
Shopping: The town people’s main purpose is the creation and hand painting of ceramics, often in timeless Italian designs. Walk through the town first, as there is shop after shop displaying beautiful ceramics of all kinds. When walking through, try to spot individual artists, their styles, and color palette to choose from the best. Shops can be for one artist where all is made and painted or can be a shop selling finished ceramics from various artists. And customized ceramics are very easy to have made and shipped. The town feels like an open-air showroom.
If you are a hand painted ceramics aficionado, this village should be included during a crewed yacht charter along the Amalfi Coast. And don’t worry, they are happy to ship anything purchased.