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Villa Franca Hotel Positano

Cetara Anchovies


The anchovy sauce of Cetara is a traditional Campania agri-food product, produced in the small fishing village of Cetara, on the Amalfi Coast.  Anchovy colatura is a transparent liquid sauce with an amber color that is produced by a traditional process of ripening anchovies in a solution saturated with 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. He described the salting of anchovies used by the Cetarese both for those caught in the cold months, called vernotiche and for the majatiche, caught in the period March-August. Kegs were used, where the anchovies, deprived of the head and "of the gall and whatever else comes out", rinsed with sea water, are arranged in layers with abundant sea salt. Once the barrels were filled, they rest on their weight lids for days to remove the resulting liquid. After the first day, it could be used as a condiment, combining oregano, lemon slices, and oil as desired.


Freshly caught anchovies, the head, and entrails are removed and then kept for 24 hours in containers with plenty of sea salt. They are then transferred to small chestnut or oak barrels, alternating with layers of salt, and covered with a wooden disc on which weights are placed, gradually decreasing over time. Following the pressure and the ripening of the fish, some liquid emerges on the surface which, in the case of preparing salted anchovies, 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. It is finally filtered through linen sheets and is therefore ready for the beginning of December. It is typically used to season spaghetti and linguine.



Anchovy sauce is mainly used as a sauce for spaghetti, but also to flavor fish or vegetable dishes, such as escarole for stuffed pizza; also with vegetables sautéed in a pan with oil, garlic, and chili, such as chard, spinach, etc. It is also appreciated by some as a condiment for tomatoes, olives, and much more...