In Vietri-sul-Mare I don’t think I can walk five feet without hues of blue, yellow, red, and green showering my senses. Each shop’s name is created on ceramic tiles, and the entire façade of that shop is decorated in multi-colored designs of the artist’s choice. Large decorative pots adorn the entrances and lovely, flowering plants in vases on the sidewalks entice shoppers. Brilliant colors blast my eyes like a kaleidoscope, and I love it.
At a little workshop, I have the pleasure of meeting Raffaele, an older gray-haired gentleman, whose prominent cheekbones and Italian nose makes me think he’s broken a few ladies’ hearts in his lifetime. He takes pride in explaining in Italian that he is seventy years old and has been creating Vietri pottery since the age of nine. Dressed in stripes of blue and gray with a collared shirt and an inside-out apron, Raffaele’s sleeves are rolled up to his elbows, his hands covered in potter’s clay. As I glance around his workspace, I notice piles of gray clay in various shapes, some still packaged in clear plastic. Surrounding Raffaele are shelves filled with pottery that is not yet painted.
Raffaele is eager to demonstrate his skills, and I’m thrilled to be able to experience him creating something artistic right in front of my eyes. I ask permission to take a video, and Raffaele smiles and nods, and then begins working with the clay. He turns on his turntable, and within seconds forms a small bowl.
With skill achieved only from a lifetime of experience, he uses both hands to shape this bowl into a taller object, which I first think might become a vase. Every ten seconds or so, he adds small amounts of water, and works with meticulous care to complete his design. In less than a minute, he finishes, and picks up the perfectly formed pitcher, holding it up for approval. I am blown away and would love to stay here all day and watch this Vietri ceramics artist at work.
It’s no wonder this quotation from Saint Francis is on the website of Romolo Apicella. workshop of Raffaele.
“The one who works with his hands is a worker.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
The one who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist.”
– Saint Francis
This story is an example of what you’ll read in my upcoming book, My Amalfi Coast Love Affair. I hope to have the manuscript ready for my editor by July, and have a goal of publishing later in the year. So stay tuned.
If you would like to see more photos from the Amalfi Coast and other areas of Italy, please check out my Instagram page.
You may also enjoy my book, Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, with all original photography.
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Grazie and Ciao.