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.
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.
Antonio 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.
Richard 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.
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.
Mr Dipino is also a collector of “Ciucci”, the donkeys first molded by Richard Doelker and immediately become a symbol of Vietri pottery.
Donkeys 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.