During the Festa a Vico we visited Cetara, the beautiful fishermen village on the Sorrentine peninsula, located at the feet of Mount Falesio. It was created in the distant 879 when Saracen pirates first landed in the area and chose Cetara as their base from where to attack the other towns along the Amalfi Coast.
The main activities of this picturesque town today revolve around their maritime traditions: the fleet of Cetara is one of the most active of the Mediterranean Sea, specialized in fishing, processing and preserving tuna (which is known as the best around) and anchovies. We should also not forget the Sorrentine lemons and liquors, marmalade and desserts made using this lovely citrus fruit.
The most famous traditional product of the village is for sure colatura di alici – the salted anchovy sauce – an amber coloured extract used mainly for pasta dishes. It is produced through fermentation of anchovies in brine within small barrels of oak or chestnut (known as terzigni). The origins of colatura di alici take us to the ancient Rome, where they produced a similar sauce known as garum. The recipe for garum was recovered by a group of monks, who would brine anchovies in wooden barrels every August.
When the fish is caught, fishermen throw it into wooden barrels, alternating layers with handfuls of salt. Then the fish is pressed down by a wooden lid weighted with rocks. By December, the anchovies have produced a fragrant amber juice. A tiny hole is poked in the bottom of the barrel allowing the colatura to drip through.
More about Cetara: http://www.amalficoast.com/