There are so many iconic sights to see in Europe and they make for a memorable trip. But some of the best vacations happen when you stumble upon areas that aren’t huge tourist attractions. Finding a place that’s a bit off the beaten path often leads to an enchanting experience getting to know the region in a most authentic way.
That’s why we love to take out friends on a tour of the Amalfi Coast that includes three very distinctively genuine villages. The small, charming villages of Minori, Cetara and Vietri offer a glimpse of life on the Amalfi Coast that their more popular neighbors can’t provide. Here are some of the wonderful ways to experience the lifestyle of the people of the region.
Minori is a beautiful little village. It’s named for the nearby river and dates back to the Etruscan civilization many millennia ago. This seemingly timeless coastal town sits between the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean and the storied cliffs of the Amalfi Coast. Brightly painted houses line the streets of Minori and the small seafront provides wonderful views.
Minori is home to one of the largest ancient ruins along the Amalfi Coast. The Villa Romana, which dates back to the 1st century BC is what remains of a seaside private estate. The ruins prove that even the ancients enjoyed a beach getaway.
Minori’s pedestrian friendly cobbled alleyways gently climb the hillside and make for a pleasant saunter through the town. We’ll stop to sample a very tasty cake from a very famous bakery. The most famous on the coast, in fact.
Cetara is a very laid back Italian fishing village that has a population of just over 2000 people. The history of Cetara dates back to well-over 1000 years and there are some preserved and historic buildings attesting to that fact.
Cetara’s fishing industry is renowned throughout the world, especially for the red tuna and what are said to be the best anchovies in the world. A local delicacy is so popular they put it on everything from pasta to pizza. Called “colatura di alici” these anchovy drippings (actually fermented anchovy extract, pungent and strong) are liquid gold. This sauce-condiment dates back to Roman times and it is a deliciously strong-flavored and highly recommended taste to enjoy.
Because the fishing industry is so prosperous in Cetara there’s no need for the town to look to tourism to support the economy. That means Cetara is one of the most traditionally authentic towns on the coast. The food, the culture, the sights and Cetara’s entire aesthetic is the real deal of life in the Amalfi Coast region.
Cetara’s fish market is a must-see if only for the delightful activity. Strolling the town is a wonderfully relaxing way to absorb Cetara’s laid-back vibe and taking a dip in the Mediterranean is an experience you’ll never forget.
“Vietri sul Mare”, or simply Vietri, is a tiny town with a huge reputation for the finest in Italian ceramics. In fact the handmade pottery production in Vietri dates back to Roman times and was the favorite of the royal court of Naples.
In the tiny town center you’ll find tile-front pottery shops and ceramic artisans just about everywhere you look. It’s the lucky visitor who is able to get up close and view these talented artisans at work. That's why we will tour a small ceramics factory and enjoy this special experience ourselves. We will also visit a ceramics museum which tells the beautiful tale of the local art and artisans through the ages.
You’ll certainly want to bring home some pieces of this beautiful Italian craft. The artisans produce dishes, vases and even some outdoor decorative pieces.
And while the ceramics are quite stunning, so are the views around Vietro. Mist-shrouded cliffs in the distance as you peer out to the sea, the beautiful late Renaissance period church of John the Baptist and the Confraternity of the Annunciation and The Rosary which dates back to the 1600s and is known for its facade decorated with local pottery.
The Road Less Traveled
In vacationing, as in life, the road less traveled sometimes is a beautiful journey. Come enjoy the beauty of these authentic towns of the Amalfi Coast and you’ll come home with an experience as unique and genuine as you could ever hope for.
We have added these towns to the Amalfi coast itinerary.