The Ceramics Museum in Vietri sul Mare

Vietri sul Mare is the home of ceramics and a museum entirely dedicated to this traditional craft could hardly be missing. The Vietri sul Mare Ceramics Museum is housed in the Villa Guariglia complex, the former sumptuous summer residence of ambassador Raffaele Guariglia, which was annexed to the heritage of the Province of Salerno in 1970 by bequest in his will. Located in Raito, the complex consists of a villa, an ancient church, the Belvedere tower and a large park that, in turn, includes gardens and some small agricultural plots. The museum, inaugurated on 9 May 1981 in the turret, houses numerous testimonies of the renowned local (and other) production, art that, according to archaeologists, dates back to ancient times.

The pleasant exhibition begins with a collection of ceramics from important ceramic centres in Campania, such as Ariano Irpino and Cerreto Sannita. To these extraordinary pieces are added numerous items from the Guariglia collection as well as various donations from private individuals.

The ‘Giuseppe Prezzolini’ room, located on the ground floor, houses objects related to spiritual, religious and devotional needs, such as votive plaques and holy water stoups. Among the exhibits are some votive plaques dating back to the first half of the 17th century, a period when they were placed in the alleys and lanes of the town, from Marina di Vietri to Raito itself. Also on display are a group of ‘bedside’ stoups that, while adhering to the Christological theme, also embrace other themes.

The tour continues in the ‘Luigi Cilento’ room, which houses a rich documentation of objects responding to material needs, such as everyday crockery dating, for the most part, from the 19th century. Here one can admire jugs, bottles, water and oil jars, mugs, bowls and plates.

On the first floor is the ‘Venturino Panebianco’ room, which houses ‘robba siciliana‘, dating back to the early 18th century, when Vietri exports to Sicily intensified. These are utilitarian ceramics (such as ordinary crockery, oil lamps, plates and vases) for which the craftsman adopted systems to speed up the working phases, without debasing the aesthetic aspect.

On display in the same room are a number of examples of ‘riggiola‘, a type of ceramic tile, used for both floor and wall coverings, produced in Campania (mainly in Naples and Vietri) and characterised by an exceptional variety of decorative motifs and colours.

The top floor illustrates the ‘German period‘ of Vietri ceramics, so-called because it describes the years (roughly between 1920 and 1947) when Vietri was a colony of many artists from Central Europe, mostly German, fleeing totalitarianism. The presence of artistic personalities such as Richard Dölker, Irene Kowaliska, Gunther Studemann and Margherita Thewalt allowed a very happy artistic season to mature.

Featured Photo © Pro Loco Vietri sul Mare