Vietri sul mare
Driving from Salerno, Vietri sul Mare is the first of the 13 pearls of the Amalfi Coast, set in the most protected location of the homonymous gulf, at the foot of Monte San Liberatore and dominates the valley of the Bonea river. It is famous all around the world for the appreciated lively polychrome ceramic handicrafts, whose first records date back to the XV century.
Although the legends tell us that the Greek hero Jason, during his wanderings in search of the Golden Fleece, founded on these shores the old "Marcina" (probably corresponding to the current Marina, district of Vietri sul Mare), the town has Etruscan origins and played the important role of outpost for centuries on the sea for commercial traffics with the hinterland. Occupied by the Romans (there are numerous archaeological artifacts from this period, unearthed in the village of Marina), during the Lombard domination it became a suburb of the city of Salerno. It then passed under the jurisdiction of the Benedictine Abbey of the Holy Trinity of Cava de' Tirreni and was district of the town of Cava until 1806, when it achieved self-government.
Among major sites of interest, not to miss:
- the Church of St. John the Baptist, built in the XVII century in late Neapolitan Renaissance style, features a single nave with a transept and a dome covered with majolica tiles. Outside stands a tall bell tower. The previous structure, dating from the X century, underwent several alterations over the centuries.
Inside it preserves a fine marble altar of the XVII century, a coffered ceiling in gold, a statue of the Saint in alabaster, a XVI century altarpiece attributed to Andrea da Salerno and a crucifix painted on wood of the XI century.
- the Confraternity of the Annunciation and the Rosary, built in the XVII century, features a marvelous façade decorated with painted pottery;
- the Church of the Madonna delle Grazie, in the district of Raito, which dates back to the XVI century;
- the Church of Santa Margherita, in the village of Albori;
-the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in the district of Benincasa;
- Palazzo Solimene, created after the Second World War by Paolo Soleri. Inside is preserved a large exhibition of contemporary ceramics;
- the former Palace Taiani with the picturesque dovecote tower, also used as a anti-Saracen pirate watchtower;
- the XVI century tower Crestarella, built on a rock and was part of the complex coastal defense system;
- the defensive tower of Marina of Albori;
- Villa Guariglia, in the village of Raito, once property of the Ambassador of Italy Raffaele Guariglia, surrounded by a beautiful park full of Mediterranean vegetation. Today it houses the Museum of the Ceramics of Vietri and a Study Center entitled to "Raffaele Guariglia". During the summer months it hosts several concerts and cultural events.
- the Museum of Ceramics of Vietri, housed in the Belvedere turret of Villa Guariglia in Raito, where typical examples of local pottery production and significant examples of ceramic of Campania, Calabria, Puglia and Liguria are on display;
- the artistic and industrial Museum, entitled to Manuel Cargaleiro, which follows an specific historical pattern similar to other museums of this kind, promoting the development of contemporary ceramic art, with particular reference to the traditions of Vietri and the relationship with other countries around the Mediterranean.
- the nearby district villages of Molina (named so for the presence of various water mills), Benincasa, Dragonea, Albori and Raito;
- the "due fratelli" ("two brothers"), two large rocks, similar to the more famous "Faraglioni" of Capri, that emerge from the waters near Marina and are connected various legends;
- the craftwork shops and ateliers that expose their bright and warm colored ceramic products, in typical Vietri style.