Vietri sul Mare is the east­ern­most pearl of the breath­tak­ing Amalfi Coast, just west of Salerno. It’s also the hap­pi­est pos­si­ble hunt­ing ground for any­one who’s into ceram­ics.

They’ve been throw­ing pots here since the 1600s. Indus­trial pro­duc­tion still abounds, while the old part of town is just brim­ming with craft work­shops and show­rooms. The style is mostly naif, with  folk-arty motifs drawn from the coun­try­side and the sea. But above all Vietri pots are vibrantly, bril­liantly, fear­lessly colourful.

Ceram­ica Artis­tica Solimene is a pretty typ­i­cal pot­tery as far as artis­tic pro­duc­tion goes. Tra­di­tional table­ware and dec­o­ra­tive tiles in rich and var­ied hues are formed, fired, hand-painted, glazed and exported along with the best of them.

What is truly extra­or­di­nary is where they do it, for the fac­tory was planned by vision­ary archi­tect and designer Paolo Soleri, best-known for com­bin­ing archi­tec­ture and ecol­ogy in Arcosanti, the com­mu­nity he founded in Ari­zona in 1970. Born in Turin, Soleri worked with Frank Lloyd Wright early in his career, was prob­a­bly suf­fer­ing from a bout of Gaudi–ism when design­ing the Solimene fac­tory, has received numer­ous awards dur­ing his career, and last I heard was still lec­tur­ing, age 93, at Ari­zona State University.

The Vietri pot­tery, com­pleted in 1954, is the only Soleri build­ing in Italy. The cav­ernous space inside is a for­est of rein­forced con­crete struts; the facades are stud­ded with ceram­ics. Fur­ther descrip­tion presents some­thing of a chal­lenge, so I’ll let the images talk…

Ceram­ica Artis­tica Solimene Vin­cenzo
Via Madonna degli Angeli 7
84019 Vietri sul Mare (SA)
+39 089 210243