The charming and quiet fishing village of Cetara is often missed by visitors to the Amalfi Coast. Group tours tend to focus on the major cities of Amalfi and Ravello, due in large part to parking issues, and then zip along the coast making stops at the overlook above Positano and the Grotta dello Smeraldo. But there is so much more to discover! Last week I was reminded of Cetara when Valerie from 2 Baci in a Pinon Tree asked for some recommendations for their day trip to Amalfi. If you are planning a drive along the Amalfi Coast, and you are interested in seeing some of the quieter and less touristy cities, I would highly recommend a stop in Cetara.
Cetara is the first city on the coast after Vietri sul Mare, and it is easy to drive right past it since it sits well below the Amalfi Coast road. Take the exit off the road and drive all the way down to the harbor where there is parking. Once you arrive at the beautiful beach, it might surprise you to learn that Cetara has been an important fishing harbor since Roman times and continues to be the most important on the Amalfi Coast. Located off the coast are Cetara’s tonnare, or tuna processing facilities, where tuna caught out at sea are placed in underwater cages before being killed and processed. The city produces some of the most incredible tuna, which is preserved in olive oil in glass jars. You can buy it in most cities along the Amalfi Coast, and it will completely change your opinion of canned tuna. Divine! Pick up some of the tuna on your visit to Cetara and make pasta with tuna when you get home. It is a simple dish, and certainly one of my favorites. In July the city celebrates their successful local industry during the Sagra del Tonno (Tuna Festival), with good food, music and other events. This year I won’t miss it!
The Parish Church of San Pietro, with its bright majolica dome, is another highlight of the city. I have yet to see the inside of the church, but you can see photos of the beautiful, late Baroque interior and other views of the church on its website. (How great is it that churches, even smaller ones like San Pietro, now have websites?)
Even if the church is closed when you visit Cetara, you will find an impressive set of contemporary bronze doors on San Pietro. The work of Don Battista Marello, they depict the Apostles Pietro and Andrea surrounded by the sea and entwined in a fishing net supported by Christ at the top of the doors.
There are some great restaurants in the area, but I would recommend Il Ristorante Pizzeria Al Convento, located in the Piazza San Francesco in Cetara. Stop by and let the owner Pasquale introduce you to some of the local fish specialities. (They do cooking classes, too!)
Have you been to Cetara?
Will you stop by on your next visit to the Amalfi Coast?
Chef Chuck says
Hi Laura, No I have not been there and it looks and sounds great! Thank you for this very informative article.
These doors are mind bogging I love them! Grazie!
Laura, you must mention about Cetara’s n°1 local specialty: COLATURA DI ALICI. It is the tasty brine that results from the maceration of anchovies in salt, and it is used to flavor anything from pasta sauces, fish stews etc. It is an ancient procedure, a Cetara Slow Food presidia and a great trick for making killer spaghetti alle vongole. Take a peek in my new blog http://forchettine.blogspot.com
there’s familiar places there too… Ciao!
Mike Davidson says
Lola–I am searching for for a manufacture of colatura di alici that would be interested in business with the US. I will be in Italy the first week of December and wanted to meet with a high quality provider. Please advise soonest.
Leanne in Italy says
Such beautiful photos! Just another place for me to explore when I get to Sorrento!
Ciao Chuck! Glad you liked the post! You must make a stop at Cetara next time you are here. You will love it!
Ciao Lola! Thanks for your comment! Yes, I have read about colatura di alici as one of Cetara’s specialities. I have yet to encounter it in home cooking, and I haven’t used it myself. I will have to get some and experiment. Thanks for sharing your new blog. I will head over to check it out!
Ciao Leanne! Ooh, you have so many great places to explore when you get to Sorrento! 🙂
Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura says
Lovely photos and on a crisp cool sunny day visiting is even more enticing.
Thank you for this post! When we went through Cetara by bus this summer I made sure to remember the name because I really liked what I saw – my first impression of Cetara was much better than that of Vietri sul Mare or Maiori.
Ciao Scintilla! Grazie! The photos of Cetara were taken on San Valentino last year. It was one of those lovely, warm February days that we had so few of this year!
Ciao Annika! I really liked Cetara the first time I saw it, too!
Vietri is a different town, but I have spent a lot of time there and have grown to like it quite a bit. It is where I stayed on my first visit to the Amalfi Coast. If you head down to the beach in Vietri, called Marina di Vietri, you will find a part of the city that feels much more familiar. Funny you mention Maiori. Try as I might, I just can’t make myself really like Maiori. But I go there often for the shops. My favorite fruit and veggie shop is there. Tutti Frutti… it even has a great name! 🙂 Over the past two years, I have found that each city on the coast definitely has its own character, and that some just take longer to get to know. I find Amalfi, Positano and Ravello to be much more open to visitors, and thus easier to feel comfortable in. Where do you like to stay when you visit here?
Amalfi is where my heart and soul find peace and feel most at home. Of course I also love Positano (who doesn’t?), Ravello is fantastic and I enjoyed spending an evening in Atrani. Vietri didn’t do much for me at all but I’ll admit that we never got down to the beach. I got very nice coffee cups there though 🙂 I want to explore Praiano next time, I’ve only passed through it so far, but I have a hard time imagining staying anywhere other than Amalfi.
We loved Cetara! Thanks for cluing us in. We both said it is definitely the type of town we would choose – homey, pretty atmosphere, nice folks, stellar views…well, you get the picture.
Ciao Annika! Ah, I share your sentiments for Amalfi. My heart and soul settled here before I had any idea what was in store for me! 😉 I spend a lot of time in Ravello, which I find to be quite charming. It never seems all that crowded with tourists, even in the peak summer months. And Positano is lovely! I don’t get there nearly as often as I would like this time of year. Hopefully soon!
Ciao Valerie! I’m so happy you enjoyed Cetara! It makes a really lovely stop off during a drive. I hope to see some of the religious festivals and the Sagra del Tonno this year. I love the city when it is quiet and peaceful like when you stopped last week, but I am also eager to see it full of people and activity. I will post photos here for sure!