Cetara: experience the evocative atmosphere of a seafront village
The spectacle of the Marina with the lampara boats leaving in the late evening, a quiet beach bordered by the old defence tower, pastel-coloured houses and churches clinging to the hillside. On the Amalfi Coast, Cetara preserves intact the most authentic dimension of a fishing village.
The perfect destination for beach lovers, who will also find it on their palate: the local speciality is in fact the Colatura di Alici (translated as Anchovy Syrup) the result of a long tradition.
Beaches in a row right in the village
The Spiaggia della Marina beach is right here in the village, protected by the Vicereale Tower, an Angevin bastion of defence. It has a sandy and a pebbly part and is surrounded by small pink and yellow houses, as well as small café and restaurant for a pleasant stopover. Facing south-east, the beach is always sun-drenched, perfect for an off-season dive on mild autumn and spring days. At the pebble beach Spiaggia del Porto, special currents make the water crystal clear.
Climb aboard a gozzo (local boat type) to visit the Spiaggia della Collata, with access only by sea, a small sheltered bay shrouded in the scents of Mediterranean vegetation; then continue, still by boat, to the tiny Spiaggia degli Innamorati, reserved to a few chosen ones. Still sailing, but this time towards the east coast, you can reach the Spiaggia della Campana (Bell Beach) with a view of two stacks. For those looking for comfort, on the Lannio Beach and the Old Tuoro Beach you can sit on soft sand.
Corso Garibaldi: the central street of the village
After a long day on the beach it is worth heading towards Corso Garibaldi, the central street of Cetara where the main historical monuments parade, including the Church of San Pietro Apostolo with its dome decorated with a polychromatic majolica covering.
The promenade is all the more enchanting at sunset, when the sun dips into the water on the horizon: it is the right time for an aperitif in one of the many bars with outdoor tables from which to admire the spectacle of colours at dusk.
Or simply rest on one of the terraces overlooking the sea, because even the dozens of benches are works of fine craftsmanship: they are made by master ceramists, with compositions depicting scenes of life and fishing.
Corso Garibaldi is also the ideal place for shopping from boutiques to ceramics ateliers to gastronomic specialities.
The famous Colatura di Alici di Cetara
The sea is rich in fish in Cetara and the name of town itself derives from Cetaria, meaning 'tuna fishery'. Today, boats go out to the deep waters of the Mediterranean for bluefin tuna, while the tradition of fishing for anchovies is still flourishing. The procedure for a good Colatura di Alici has very ancient roots, traceable back to the time of the Romans who made a similar product called Garum.
The Cistercian monks from Amalfi then enhanced the technique: the fish are salted and after curing, the liquid is filtered, a craft method that is still used today.
Colatura di Alici has an intense flavour, which you can enjoy by ordering a spaghetti or linguine in the village restaurants. Divine in their simplicity, with no need for seasoning other than a sprinkling of parsley and a good extra virgin olive oil.
Trekking among the lemon groves
Cetara is a strategic hub for treks of various difficulties in the hills. A one-hour walk along a beautiful path through olive groves, vineyards and lemon orchards on terraces leads to Punta Fuenti. On the contrary, for the braver ones, it takes almost 7 hours to walk the paths from Abbazia di Cava to Iaconti: you will find yourself on a ridge of Mount Falerio before heading into lush forests.
If you are looking for an excursion out of town, move to nearby Maiori: this is where the Via dei Limoni (Lemon Path) starts, the ancient road that in 9 kilometres connects Maiori to Minori, both delightful villages.
Farmers used to pass through here and even today, during the harvesting period between spring and summer, you can see them at work and intent on transporting citrus fruits by mule.
The cultivation of lemons on the Amalfi Coast is a true art.