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About Salerno

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Salerno has ancient  Greek and Roman origins. At Paestum, archaeological excavations have uncovered a necropolis from the 6th century BC proving the existence of an Etruscan-Campanian settlement, on whose site the Greek town of Poseidonia was founded. This became a Roman colony in 197 BC. So flourishing was the town in the Middle Ages that Roberto il Guiscardo made it the capital of his Duchy in 1077. In this social and cultural environment the  oldest university in Europe, “La Scuola Medica Salernitana” was founded. “La Scuola Medica Salernitana” owed its origins in the 8th century to the herbal medicinal practices of Benedictine monks;  the School itself was rebuilt in 1232 by the Emperor Frederick II and became a model in Europe for the practice and teaching of medicine and  became home to many famous scholars and physicians.

Even today Salerno's beautiful historic centre bears signs of  a glorious past with its medieval charm remaining intact.

The medieval area runs from the Aqueduct to the Arechi Castle and includes the Cathedral, the Roteprandi Gate, the residences of the aristocracy. Its narrow, winding streets, like the Via dei Mercanti, the main medieval commercial area, which crosses the entire historic centre, from the Catena Gate to the New Gate (mentioned by Masuccio Salernitano in his “Novellino”) are still typical of the period . The names of the narrow alleys of medieval Salerno, divided by 10th and 11th-century arches, celebrate the Lombard and Norman conquests and bear witness to the Merchants Guilds, such as the district of the ‘Barbuti' or the ‘Fornelle', ovens in which pottery was fired. These alleys wind their way to the Piazza del Campo with its Vanvitelli Dolphin fountain, and through to  aristocratic residences with small courtyards and elegant sculptures.

Further up is the famous Minerva Garden, where herbalists of old prepared their remedies. It was to these winding streets that the inhabitants of Salerno fled to escape the Saracen incursions or to the Arechi castle, which still dominates the city, to take refuge. Another building high up above the city which has now become its symbol is the Cathedral, built by Roberto il  Guiscardo in 1079 and consecrated by Pope Gregory VII,  its lion carved doorway opening up onto a splendid portico. It is believed that the School of Medicine was set up in the atrium. The nave and aisles were decorated in the Baroque style in the 18th century. The visitor should not miss the large Byzantine mosaics, the crypt, and the treasury housing the silver statue of Saint Matthew, which is carried in the procession in his honour on September 21st every year to celebrate the anniversary of his death.

Nowadays, new life is being breathed into the historic centre of Salerno. It is regaining its original colours and appearance, and is transformed at night by its ‘movida', where many young people can be found eating and drinking in the cafés, bars and restaurants that create a contrast between old and new.

The buildings of the Renaissance, the Baroque period and the modern age developed in harmonious synergy around this ancient centre, ceaselessly or conflict, producing monuments and outstanding examples of impressive architecture: Santa Sofia, now the setting for international art exhibitions, the Ave Gratia Plena Convent, Palazzo Pinto, the Teatro Verdi, the Palazzo di Città, the Prefettura, Il Tribunale, the Verdi Park, the Seafront and many venues  of cultural interest such the Museum of Ceramics, the Provincial Museum, with its splendid archaeological exhibits, and the Diocesan Museum with its Roman and Medieval artefacts. These all make Salerno one of the most welcoming and hospitable cities.

Salerno's central position, nestling in the folds of the bay that bears its name, makes the city a focal point for leisure tourism and seaside holidays. The magnificent seafront Lungomare Trieste skirts the city and links the Amalfi Coast to the West, and to the South-East with the Piana del Sele and its miles long sandy coastline. It spreads to reach Velia, Paestum and Palinuro, whose names alone give a hint of their incomparable beauty.

click here for details: www.comune.salerno.it