Discover the colourful ceramics of the Amalfi Coast with Casa Angelina’s new handicrafts workshop
From tiles to tableware, the ceramics of the Amalfi Coast are a riot of colour inspired by the surrounding landscapes – the jewel-toned blues of the sea, the vivid yellows of sfusato lemons, the soft pastel hues of the clifftop villages. As a guest of Casa Angelina, you can immerse yourself in this ancient craftsmanship with a handicrafts workshop at Ceramiche Parlato, a local ceramics specialist and authentic shop brimming with hand-painted decorative designs and traditional tiles. Best of all, you can bring your finished product home as a keepsake and reminder of your trip to Italy.
More than simply decorative designs, this ancient art form is a rich part of Italy’s history, with early ceramics dating back as far as the fifth century BC. More recently, the craftsmanship became firmly entwined in local culture in the 15th century, when designers cultivated the mineral-packed earth – rich in clay, limestone and volcanic materials – for producing colourful ceramics and majolica tiles. The creative capital of southern Italy is Vietri sul Mare, a cliffside village whose locally produced tiles exploded in popularity among Naples’ aristocracy during the 16th and 17th centuries, and whose religious designs were splashed across the facades of private palazzo and domes of majestic churches throughout the region.
After a brief lull in production in the 19th century, a wave of European artists revived the artisanal trade in the 1920s, when a crop of landscape designs began springing up across whitewashed walls throughout Vietri’s streets. Giving a nod to the history and tradition of Vietri ceramics, handmade designs were painted by fine brush, bringing to life quintessential scenes of the Amalfi Coast – local fisherman, ciucciariello pack donkeys, cliffside villages tumbling down to azure bays, fishing boats bobbing on the cerulean water. Today, Positano snaps at Vietri’s heels as a vibrant hub in ceramic production; both towns creating an abundance of beautiful tableware, decorative designs and traditional majolica tiles that pay homage to the region’s creative roots.
Where to discover the traditional ceramics of the Amalfi Coast
Best for: creating your own designs
Located in Positano, Ceramiche Parlato is a local crafts specialist and authentic shop filled with charming ceramics, tableware and crockery, and hand painted tiles. As a guest of Casa Angelina, you have the opportunity to visit the store – located just minutes from the hotel – to paint the signature tiles of the Amalfi Coast. The authentic local shop will also teach you about the ancient art and craft materials, enhancing your cultural experience. Following the handicrafts workshop, you can take the finished product home as a keepsake and reminder of your trip to Italy.
Best for: learning the history of the art
A Vietri sul Mare institution, the Museum of Vietri Ceramics is set in Torretta Belvedere, an old watchtower on the grounds of the elegant Villa Guariglia, in the sleepy village of Raito. Walk through four centuries of Vietri ceramics, as the museum tells the story of the local artisans who developed the handicraft industry in the 17th century, through to the influx of artists throughout the years who have kept the tradition alive. Next, visit the Ceramica Artistica Solimene majolica factory, housed in a 1954-built building clad in ceramic tiles and glass, where you can discover the contemporary designs of the region.
Best for: spotting ceramics on the Amalfi Coast
If you stroll through the necklace of towns draped along the Amalfi Coast, you can’t help but stumble across eye-catching examples of majolica tiles decorating church domes and splashed across wall murals – from elaborate house numbers lining the ancient staircases of Amalfi to vivid tile murals down by sea in Positano. An abundance of ceramic shops can be found in the towns of Amalfi, Maiori, Ravello, Positano and Sorrento, with even the shop signs illustrating the craftsmanship at its best – and providing ample Instagram fodder.
The town of Vietri sul Mare is like an open-air ceramics museum, so simply meander through the town to eye hand-painted street signs and elaborate tile murals featuring symbols of the region – flowers, fish and fruit, among others. While here, head to Via Madonna degli Angeli to browse the famed ceramic shops and swing by the 18th-century church of San Giovanni Battista to marvel at its crowning glory: a vibrant yellow and blue-tiled dome.