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Cetara is a village in the province of Salerno in the Campania region of south-western Italy. It is located in the territory of the Amalfi Coast.

The village was originally a settlement for a group of armed Muslims in 880. Characterized to be a village of fishermen (especially of tuna), its name take origins probably from the Latin word Cetaria (in Greek Ketèia), meaning almadraba  (in Italian tonnara); or cetari, meaning fishmongers of big fishes.


Colatura di Cetara anchovies is a traditional Campania food product, produced in the small seaside village of Cetara. The safest written source of the method of preparing the anchovy sauce anchovy is found in the Disciplinary of the Campania Region entitled "Disciplinary for the production of the anchovy sauce of Cetara DOP".

The anchovy sauce is a transparent liquid sauce with an amber color that is produced by a traditional process of maturing the anchovies in a satured solution of water and salt. The anchovies used are fished near the Amalfi coast in the period from 25 March, which corresponds to the feast of the Annunciation, until 22 July, the day of Santa Maria Maddalena.


History of the product

The origins of this gastronomic product date back to the Romans, who produced a sauce very similar to today's sauce, called garum  The recipe was then somehow recovered in the Middle Ages by the monastic groups present on the Amalfi Coast, who in August used to store anchovies in wooden barrels with the staves low-cut and placed in the middle of two beams, called mbuosti; under the action of the salt, the anchovies were leaking liquids that leaked between the cracks of the barrels. The procedure subsequently spread among the population of the coast, who perfected it with the use of wool caps to filter the brine.

The written sources date back to 1807 by Padre Nicola "Columella" Onorati, a Lucanian Franciscan, who wrote a memoir entitled "Memoirs On Rural and Domestic Economy That Can Serve To Supplement The Work Of Rustic Things, Part I , II. ", where the fifth chapter is entitled "Della Pescagione and the way of salting anchovies etc. which is practiced by 'Cetaresi, peoples of the Kingdom of Naples: where other information is exposed that may form the Statistics of the Country itself “. In memory, the Franciscan describes in detail how they made the anchovy sauce of Cetara in his time, a writing from which lessons are still drawn today.

At the end of September 1807, Padre Nicola Columella Onorati stopped in Cetara, a farmhouse in the City of Cava, located in the Gulf of Salerno, of about 2800 inhabitants, to study the salting of anchovies and fishing in general, practiced even in nearby locations. He learned that the tools used by about a thousand Cetarean fishermen were large and small trawlers, rezzolle, menaidi and longline (type of nets), small tartanelle and large tartanoni. He reported the vulgar names and linnaean terminology of the fish that were caught in the Gulf of Salerno.

He described the salting of anchovies used by the Cetaresi both for those caught in the cold months, called vernotiche and for the majaticas, caught in the period March-August. For this technique, which was also practiced for sardines, barrels were used, commonly known as cognette, where the anchovies, deprived of the head and "gall and whatever else comes out", well rinsed with sea water, were prepared at layers with abundant sea salt.


 "For rolls 90 in 94 of fresh anchovies within a barrel of rolls 64 with the whole clam; you need 20 rolls, and 33 ounces, of salt. Once the barrels had been filled, they rested on their weight covers for a few tens of hours and care was taken to remove the liquid which came out, known as "gucco" or "pouring". After the first day, the pouring could be used as a seasoning, combining oregano, lemon slices and oil as desired".


The anchovies, freshly fished, are removed from the head and entrails, and are then kept for 24 hours in containers with abundant sea salt. They are then transferred to small chestnut or oak barrels (called terzigni), alternated with layers of salt, and covered with a wooden disc on which weights are placed, gradually less over time. Following the pressure and maturation of the fish, liquid emerges on the surface which, in the case of preparation of anchovies in salt, is removed. This liquid provides the basis for the preparation of anchovy sauce. It is in fact stored in large glass containers and exposed to direct sunlight which, by evaporation of the water, increases its concentration. After about four or five months, typically therefore between the end of October and the beginning of November, all the collected liquid is again poured into the barrels with anchovies, and slowly poured through a hole, between the layers of fish, so to further collect its flavor. It is finally filtered through linen sheets, and is therefore ready for the beginning of December.



The anchovy sauce is mainly used as a condiment to season spaghetti and linguine which must be cooked without salt, as the anchovy sauce is very salty; but also for flavoring dishes based on fish or vegetables, such as escarole for stuffed pizza; also with stir-fried vegetables with oil, garlic and chilli, such as chard, spinach , etc. It is also appreciated by some as a condiment for tomatoes, olives, even for stuffed sandwiches and eggs cooked in various ways.

In Cetara this dish is typical of Christmas Eve.  

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