SALERNO, A CITY FULL OF HISTORY, BEAUTY AND FLAVORS TO BE DISCOVERED
Many people know Salerno as the point of union between the Amalfi and Cilento Coasts. Just a few know that, like the most popular tourist destinations, it offers several sites of historical and artistic interest, not to mention the breathtaking landscapes.
by Barbara Iovine
The city of Salerno is alive, full of history, beauty to be discovered. It has a medieval mark, but it also keeps up with modern times. In addition, there is a wide choice of nightclubs. Suitable for those who want to spend a relaxing day, walking and tasting good ice cream, but also for those who feel adventurous and prefer an engaging trekking route. Whatever kind of holiday you are looking for, Salerno will not disappoint you!
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Salerno - view from Castello di Arechi
The gateway to the Amalfi Coast
Salerno is often considered the gateway to a wonderful Amalfi Coast tour, thanks to the excellent connections by sea and its strategic position, but I assure you that it is much more than that. From the Castello di Arechi to the lungomare Trieste, passing through via dei Mercanti, the city is a real surprise.
Giardino della Minerva
The old Norman capital
The city has seen several populations pass over the centuries: Etruscans, Romans, Lombards, and Normans that chose it as the capital of their southern Italy kingdom. Today it hosts, among its streets and squares, the numerous traces of a rich and fascinating history, which makes it an unmissable destination during your holiday in Campania.
Let's go to the discovery of this beautiful city!
Cathedral of Salerno - entrance
The historic center of Salerno
Let’s begin our visit by walking the oldest street in the city: via Mercanti. In ancient times this was the merchant street par excellence, and today it is the main shopping street. Promenading here will be like taking a trip back in time: it crosses the entire historic center and is lined with ancient churches and palaces, including the Pinacoteca Comunale, it also reaches the famous Duomo di Salerno.
This latter is a real jewel in the middle of the historic center, characterized by a mix of architectural styles. Although the Baroque façade may not impress you, the inside is very different. You can recognize the beauty of this place from the moment you see the large courtyard, surrounded by arcades and columns. On the sides of its peculiar bronze portal, there are two lions to welcome the visitors, they symbolize the church's charity and strength. Inside the Cathedral there is a magnificent Roman four-sided portico, unique in Italy together with that of the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan, and some fantastic mosaics. However, the sumptuous crypt is the point of the greatest interest. There are nine rows of columns, a double altar, and different frescoes depicting scenes from the life of the patron saint of the city, San Matteo, and his remains as well. It is a place of extraordinary beauty that will leave you speechless for sure.
Furthermore, walking through the historic center, you cannot fail but notice the large arches of the medieval Acquedotto, which is a few hundred meters long. It fits perfectly with the modern buildings of the city, and today it is called “Bridge (or Arches) of the Devils” because a legend says that it was built in one night, with the help of demons: it is a really admirable architectural work.
In the historic center, there is also the Giardino della Minerva, a botanical garden, once used by the students of the Salerno Medical School (the first and oldest medical institution in Europe). Visiting the garden will be an amazing experience: you can explore it, discovering aromatic herbs, spices from all over the world, and rare and exotic plant species. Also, you can enjoy particular infusions at the Tisaneria, a sort of bar, sitting at its panoramic tables overlooking the spectacular Gulf of Salerno. You will love it!
The small Museo Archeologico Provinciale di Salerno is also worthy of a visit. It hosts the famous bronze head of Apollo and a rich collection of artifacts from prehistory to the late Roman age. It is interesting for those who want to learn more about the city’s history.
Walks with a view in the beautiful Salerno
You cannot fail to dedicate a visit to the Castello di Arechi, the true symbol of Salerno. The panorama that you will admire from the top of it will leave you speechless: you will see the whole Amalfi Coast in its splendor. I'm sure you don't want to miss such a thing!
Furthermore, because of the beauty of this place, the manor hosts conferences, weddings, and private parties. Inside the castle, there are also two museums exposing weapons, ceramics and, various tools: the Multimedia one and the Medieval one.
Finally, take a walk among the palms of the Lungomare Trieste and enjoy the view of the sea or, if you prefer a little shade, head to the Villa Comunale to admire the beautiful fountain. Close to the Christmas period, the Villa becomes an enchanted garden because of the famous event “Luci d'Artista”: a very characteristic exhibition of luminous works of art. One of a kind!
Salerno may not be considered a coastal pearl, but I am sure you will agree with me when I say that its strategic position, combined with the beauty of the city itself, makes it an excellent holiday destination.
- Not everyone knows that the real name of Salerno’s Duomo is: Cattedrale di Santa Maria degli Angeli, San Matteo, and San Gregorio VII.
- It is said that around the year 1000, as a consequence of the Saracen raids, the people of Salerno took refuge in the Cathedral to pray. When the pirates arrived there, the two stone lions, placed on either side of the Cathedral entrance, came to life and freed the city from invaders.
- La Ricciarda by Ugo Foscolo is set in the Castello di Arechi.
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