The Amalfi Coast, Capri, and Naples: Places to Explore

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Cetara

Tourists tend to take a pass on the village of Cetara. A quaint and quiet fishing village below orange groves on Monte Falerzo, it was held in subjugation to greater powers, like most of these coastal sites, throughout much of its history. From being a Saracen stronghold in the 9th century, it became the final holding of Amalfi at the eastern edge of the republic, which all through the 11th and 12th centuries tithed part of Cetara's fishing catch, ius piscariae—the town's claim to fame. It is rumored that the village's Latin name comes from this big catch—cetaria (tuna net), though Cetara is more renowned these days for its anchovies. Thousands of years ago, salted and strained, they became a spicy liquid called garum, a delicacy to the rich of ancient Rome. Garum, as well as the lighter colatura di alici, can be purchased at local grocery stores or at Cetarii, on the beachfront. After the Middle Ages, the village came under the dominion of the Benedictine abbey of neighboring Santa Maria di Erchie, and then became the port of the abbey of Cava, above the coast, which traded with Africa. In 1534 the Turks, led by the tyrant Sinan Pasha—on the invitation, no less, of Prince Ferdinando Sanseverino of Salerno—enslaved 300 Cetaran villagers, spiriting them away in 22 galleys and executing those who would not cooperate. A few survivors fled to Naples, which immediately ordered a watchtower to be raised in Cetara to ward off future raids. This is one of the many landmarks that remind tourists there were coastal perils previous to the one of driving on Statale 163. Beneath the tower is a rocky little beach, and a small park overlooks the harbor, where fishermen mend their nets and paint their boats. They often are away from home for months, fishing in deep waters. Other than the charmingly scenic waterfront, there are no sights of note, other than the church of San Pietro, near the harbor.

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