Located along the Amalfi Coast at the beginning of the Sorrento Peninsula is Vietri sul Mare, otherwise known as the “mother lode” of Italian hand painted ceramics. We wandered into Vietri purely by happenstance. While exploring the Sorrento Peninsula, we found ourselves on a main road of Vietri surrounded by shops and “factorias”, where ceramic objects of all sizes, shapes and purposes, were being made, hand painted and of course, sold.
Vietri sul Mare is on the southern side of the Sorrento Peninsula, just at the beginning of this promontory to the west of Salerno. While Vietri sul Mare is on the Mediterranean Sea and a short harbor visit might be possible, the closest real dockage is in Salerno, just next door.Craftsmen in the town of Vietri 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 of Vietri and the craftsmen located there, that the brand name is now protected and only ceramics actually made in Vietri can carry the Vietri name.
While many different patterns are painted under the auspices of Vietri ceramics, most contain the Mediterranean local colors of blue, green and yellow and often are painted with lemons, or Mediterranean marine life seen locally. I saw a dinner service several times when inspecting large powerboats available for crewed yacht charter, from Vietri, with a pattern of blue waves, various painted fish, octopus, shrimp and other marine life indigenous to the southern coast of Italy. I wandered into a shop and warehouse and stumbled on the family producing this dinnerware, and watched while they hand painted each piece with the distinctive marine pattern. Of course, I walked away with an extensive selection of plates, bowls, and tiles, which I still have and use today, all marked on the bottom “Iovine, Vietri”.
It was 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 painted. 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 stopping for.If you are a hand painted ceramics aficionado, Vietri Sul Mare should be included during a crewed yacht charter along the Amalfi Coast. And don’t worry, they are happy to ship anything purchased.