The Sudden Joy of a Close Encounter with Vietri Pottery Art

A week ago. Amalfi at night. Rough weather. Yet, the place was crowded for a media award. In the attempt to escape the pressure of the onlookers we sneaked into a narrow side street.

In the middle of the path I noticed a shop sign:  La Caravella – Enoteca & Ceramiche.  I had decided to forget about finding some special pottery piece in the area. I’d had enough of souvenir shops or ultra expensive art galleries. However I was stirred by the combination of wine and pottery and decided to give it a try.

Italian Ceramics - La Caravella, Winery and Pottery Art Gallery - Photo credits: La CaravellaA few seconds and my heart leaped with joy. I was surrounded by art pottery pieces, whose style was entirely new to me. It was my first meeting with Vietri Art Ceramic.

After a long inspection at the content of the gallery – I did not pay too much attention to the wine, although I love it … – I engaged the shop assistant in a feverish talk about who the artists were and where they were from and whose idea it was to combine art & wine.

My kids cut me short after what seemed to me just a minute: they were not so keen on spending their ice cream time in an art gallery.

However I learned that the art gallery had been opened only a few months earlier to celebrate the 50th birthday of La Caravella, one of the best restaurants in the South of Italy.

Antonio Dipino, owner of La Caravella - Wine and Pottery Art GalleryAntonio Dipino, owner and chef of this renowned restaurant, has been collecting art pottery of the region for many years. What had started as an interior design idea, soon became a real passion and his restaurant is now considered a unique combination of a museum and a restaurant.
The Winery & Pottery art gallery is his latest initiative, acclaimed by his customers & visitors who can now bring home a real art piece, be it a rare bottle of wine or a ceramic work, in addition to the experience of a delicious meal.

The man intrigued me and I wanted to know more about his collection so I arranged an appointment with him for the next evening.

It was such a pleasure listening to him talking about Vietri pottery. His eyes shone while he told me how a group of German artists settled in Vietri in the 20’s.
Working side by side with Vietri craftsmen they blended the local pottery making style and the new art trends, revitalizing the millennium-old ceramic tradition that was stuck in the repetition of old fashioned products, no longer in tune with the contemporary taste.

Italian Ceramics - Man by Francesco ProcidaRichard Doelker, Günther Stüdemann, Elle Schwarz, Margarete Thewalt Hannash, Irene Kowaliska, Marianne Amos … they marked the beginning of a new era in the history of Vietri pottery. They unleashed a creative power that influenced the artists of the region in the following decades, promoting the creative talent of Giovannino Carrano, Vincenzo Pinto, Giosuè and Salvatore Procida, Guido Gambone.

Needless to say, Mr Dipino owns valuable pieces made in the Golden Era of Vietri pottery.

With a connoisseur and collector’s taste he has selected for his art gallery a small group of artists who represents the best the region has to offer. And he introduced them to me through their works.
I admired the virtuosism and technical skills of Giancappetti, the soft colored plates and tiles painted by Alessandro Mautone, Francesco Raimondi’s eclectic art, whose essence is so difficult to define, Clara Garesio’s ceramic reliefs, tile murals and porcelains, the colorful works by the world famous Portuguese artist Manuel Cargaleiro who has a very special relationship with Vietri.

Italian Ceramics - Opera singer by Lucio and Elena LiguoriI was particularly attracted by the works of Lucio Liguori and Francesco Procida.

Liguori is a sculptor and a ceramicist who uses with stunning skill different techniques. His plates full of fish are so real you’re surprised they don’t smell.
I fell for an opera singer he made with his wife. I found it so moving I ended up bringing it home.

Francesco Procida is a totally different story. A tall man roughly shaped won my heart with its strong tactile and visual appeal. Hard to describe his technique. Just glance at the picture.

Mr Dipino is also a collector of “Ciucci”, the donkeys first molded by Richard Doelker and immediately become a symbol of Vietri pottery.
Italian Ceramics - The Ciucco (Donkey), symbol of Vietri ceramics - Photo credits: La Caravella Art Gallery in AmalfiDonkeys any size are all over the place in the gallery, each bearing the unmistakable impression of the art style of its own maker. Large Ciucci by Enzo Caruso rival with the raku Ciucci by Liguori and the naïf ones by Procida. The choice is difficult …

This time I left without Ciucci. But I swear I’ll go back. I made a point of learning more about Vietri pottery. I wish to visit the Museum of Ceramic and the Museum Manuel Cargaleiro and I’d like to meet Pietro Amos, the artist and art critic who is part of the history of the place. Not because of his age, of course… Antonio Dipino is a friend of his and maybe he’ll introduce me.

I wish to thank Mr Dipino for his time, his kindness and the enthusiasm he puts in his work. An art gallery is sometimes only a business. His gallery is not. And it shows.

If you’re looking for a Ciuccio – Donkey let us know. We can help you choose something which you won’t find in a souvenir shop. Ever.

La Caravella – Enoteca e Ceramiche
Vicolo Masaniello 14
Ph: +39 089 871029

10 thoughts on “The Sudden Joy of a Close Encounter with Vietri Pottery Art

  1. Hi

    I am English, just bought Maison de Maitre in the Lot Valley in France, complete with gorgeaous antiques and literally all contents! I have found an old cermic dish of G Batignani Terrecotte Signa, lovelu terracotta colour and very elaborate design. Can you tell me about this type of pottery and approx value (I have a large household insurance, as you can imagine). Have found many beautiful and valuable things in the house, but want to keep most of them!!
    Many thanks for all your help


  2. Hello,

    I’ve recently started collecting the Italian pottery donkeys, and now have four in total. I’m trying to find out more about them but am struggling to discover anything. I’m just wondering if you have any more information about them? Thanks for the info that is in this text – I now know more about them from reading this than I ever did before! I’ve got pictures of the donkeys I currently own on my own blog. I hope you don’t mind if I include some of the information you have here about them.

    Many thanks,


  3. Hello,
    I’m looking for old pottery made in Vietri, in particular way I’m collecting donkeys, others small animals, and pottery signed ICS and fish mark.
    Many thanks again for your kindness.

  4. Dear sir,

    I see that you are looking for ICS donkeys.
    From my parends i recieved one piece, must be from the 1930/1935.
    Signed with ICS and fishmark
    Unfortunally there is one leg broken(missing).

    If this is interesting for you, you can mail me this and i will send a few pics.

    André Nelissen

  5. Dear André Nelissen,
    thank you for your kind answer.
    This is my mail address, please send me a few pictures of donkey.
    Best regards,


  6. I just tread about vietri ceramica and found that I have what appears to be a ciucci donkey as shown. Can help me identify the artist and are there such for sale?
    murray /Users/murrayzedeck/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified/2010/Oct 3, 2010/mail-1.jpeg

  7. I can’t see anything, the link you sent me is not active.
    Send me an image to the email address you find up, or a link that works.

  8. i have a nice big batik in italien ebay this week from riccardo doelker vietri if you are intrested have a look

  9. I have a vase that was given to me when Mother in Law passed. I’ve admired it for almost 50 yrs. My mother in law did not know how old it was. She received it from
    Great, great aunt. I’ve looked for years and cannot find pattern. I know it comes from Italy and was made at the Assisi pottery it is signed but cannot read Artist name Any information would be greatly Appreciated I know it’s got to be at least 100 years old at least

  10. Hello Christine,
    we’ll contact you privately. Thanks for your comment!

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