Vietri sul Mare is known as the first (or the last) of the picturesque towns dotting the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy. It’s also one that isn’t as heavily frequented by tourists as destinations like Positano, Sorrento and the town of Amalfi. But modest little Vietri has its own charms. Perched above the sea, it offers serene vistas of the Mediterranean as well as a birds’ eye view of ships’ activities in the busy port of Salerno to the southwest.
There are actually two reasons why I’d like to return to Vietri sul Mare. First, I love Italian ceramics, and this town is the epicenter for shops selling the colorful dishes, pots, platters, and more that are the trademark of the area. Be warned: if you’re more comfortable with pastels and love the subtle shades of Spanish Lladro figurines, this will not be your cup of tea.
Lemons, pomegranates, oranges and a rainbow of other fruits and vegetables are frequently the playful designs featured against vibrant blue, golden yellow and red backgrounds. Look for wreathes of sunflowers, branches of plump olives, stylized fish swimming on a sea of green – and for rims and handles bordered with a checkerboard pattern, lattice of gold, scrolls, dots, diamonds and more!
The pottery may be too bright and too busy for some, but there’s something about the joyous splashes of color that make me happy. Bellissimo! So if I’m lucky enough to return to this town, I will no doubt break the budget – again – buying up pieces I love and then paying as much again to ship them back safely to my home. At least I can honestly say that the pieces I have already give me pleasure every time I see them, from the large blue ginger jar with lemons on a table in my living room, to the simple little napkin holder on the kitchen counter.
The second reason why I’d like to go back (and recommend Vietri sul Mare to you) is that people staying in the more popular towns may come to Vietri as a quick morning or afternoon side trip to check out the ceramics shops – and then they leave. If you stay in the town, by late afternoon and into the evening, you will share it primarily with the residents. You can have a great (and reasonably priced) dinner at one of the small family-owned restaurants, then cap off the evening with the locals strolling arm-in-arm through the streets and piazza, enjoying your gelato and wishing everyone, “Buona sera!” It just doesn’t get any more “down home” Italian than that. Ciao!