Vietri sul Mare Is a small town with little more than 8000 inhabitants in the province of Salerno in Campania. In 1997 ‘Unesco’ declared Vietri sul Mare and the other towns along the Amalfi Coast a World Heritage Site. Probably the first settlers in the area of Vietri were the Etruscans and it is likely that the name of the town comes from the term " Veteri " which was the name the Romans gave to early settlers/settlements.
As Vietri was part of ‘Cava dei Tirreni’ until 1806, Vietrese life was shaped by the relationships with the Abbey of Cava dei Tirreni in fact, the harbour of Vietri was used by the monks like a commercial port for the trading of goods and services, the majority of this trading was done by boat with the area south of Salerno and as a result Vietri learned the art of boat making. Under the Sanseverino Family (which were amongst the most powerful fuedal lords in southern Italy), recognition and thanks go to the Princes of Sanseverino who, in the late Italian Renaissance period, were the first to establish the earliest factories of ceramics in the area.
Strong influences were from the people of Tuscany, (who moved to the area and opened a glass factory which, unfortunately is no longer in existence), and from the Germans. Following the end of the second world war many Germans previously stationed in the area, remained because of the mild climate and way of life. The Germans brought with them knowledge and skills in respect of engineering and chemistry and helped to ‘invent’ some colours for the ceramics that were difficult to reproduce - like the recognised ‘yellow of Vietri’.
Another prominent influence of the cermic art production was the donkey and cart! which were used to transport goods up and down the steep inclines around Vietri – hence, one of the old traditional items of ceramics was the “ciucciariello” (donkey and cart). The people of Vietri became expert crafts people in woodwork and ironwork which was associated with the production and maintenance of these carts.
Today, Vietri sul Mare is a popular tourist destination because it is a convenient place to start the Amalfi Coast drive. It is the last or first town on the Amalfi Coast and inhabitants like to call it “The First Pearl of the Amalfi”, claiming that the Amalfi begins at Vietri. Many small businesses and studios have been founded which maintain the long established and rich traditions of hand crafted ceramic production.