Friday, October 15, 2010

Vietri sul Mare

One of the best spots ever for the afternoon riposo (nap)
We visited the lovely Vietri last Saturday. Getting a late start, by the time we found parking, our stomachs were growling in tune. In our parking search, we'd noted that Vietri has one main street where the tourists head...and that was our destination as well. Vietri is home to some of the most vibrant ceramics in southern Italy, and that main street mentioned above is home to dozens of itty, bitty shops, each with their own handmade ceramics. In our walk from the edge of town we took a wrong turn and ended up outside a church immediately following a wedding. We lurked about a few minutes to take in everyone's wedding finery, then as we headed out of the piazza, we found ourselves caught up in the procession of the wedding guests down the one, narrow alley exit. A bit embarrassing, but we just smiled gamely at all the shopkeepers standing in their doorways until we could duck off onto another street...where we ran right into Nathan's boss and his family who had just sat down to lunch. (Vietri is VERY popular among the military folks. It's only a short drive away, has a large selection of items that make great gifts and souvenirs for our homes, and you can see from the photo above that the views are spectacular.). We had a nice lunch with them and got to pick their brains for all their great travel recommendations in the region, specifically for a place called Alberobello, where we hope to spend Thanksgiving. By the time we finished lunch, shops were all closed for riposo, so we followed in tradition by finding a comfortable bench to nap for the next hour.
I'm in love with the vibrant colors of the Vietri ceramics.
I'd heard and read about how beautiful the Vietri ceramics are, but I had this vision in my head of something along the lines of South of the Border - a whole bunch of tourist shops selling the same stuff. Wrong, wrong, wrong...or, as they say in Italia, scoretto, scoretto, scoretto. Because each shop is selling handmade items, they all have slight differences. While the bowls, plates, mugs, platters are similar shapes, the actual artwork is subtly different. And there are a few stores that have broken from tradition and have very unique, different artwork on their ceramics.
This shop has an inventive way of showing their wares...and it certainly worked in getting us to head downstairs.
Vietri has a ceramics factory which sells a good number of cast-offs, irregulars, and the like. But the best thing is it's Gaudi-esque building containing the showroom. Despite the resemblance to Gaudi's architecture, the designer actually studied under Frank Lloyd Wright.
Our visit to Vietri was one of the daytrips we've come to really love. We have a morning where we're focused but not rushed - sit for breakfast, check email, read for a bit, then get on the road. At our destination, we don't hurry, but rather stroll along, take the side alleys that look interesting, stop for caffe and gelato. We generally end these days feeling so relaxed, excited that we saw something new, interesting, and different, and glad that we took our time enjoying the surroundings rather than just checking the block off the tour list.

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