Salerno

Historically overlooked in favour of neighbours Naples, the city of Salerno in the region of Campania in southeast Italy is an up and coming location in the country, providing great beaches, architecture and nightlife.

Previously dominated by the Samnites-Etruscans, the settlement became the colony of Salernum courtesy of the Romans in 194 BC. A regional administrative centre by the time of Rome’s fall, Salernum was in political flux until the Lombard takeover in the 7th century, sparking an era of prosperity. The city continued to develop under the control of the Sanseverino Princes throughout the Middle Ages, only passing to the French in 1799 as part of the Parthenopean Republic. Absorbed into the new Italy in the mid-19th century, it has proved an important 20th century historical site, with King Victor Emmanuel III fleeing Rome for Salerno in 1943 and the city being a centre of the short-lived 'government of the South'.

Now more renowned for its port than its politics, Salerno’s combination of culture and relaxation has made it one of Italy’s new tourist hotspots, catering to all types of visitor.

Attractions

Much of Salerno’s allure derives from the Amalfi Coast on the Sorrentine Peninsula, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. One explanation for this is the fabulous Duomo di Salerno in the Piazza Duomo. Dedicated to St. Matthew and built in the 11th century with many modifications and restorations since, the Cathedral is notable both for its fine façade, mixing Romanesque and Byzantine styles (including 11th century bronze doors from Constantinople), and the adjoining mid-12th century campanile (bell tower). The interior is also highly impressive, containing paintings and mosaics as well as a crypt which houses the remains of St. Matthew himself. The Duomo Museum can also be found within, covering artworks and local history.

If the Duomo is not enough, check out the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Positano and the Villa Cimbrone in Ravello for more great sights. However, if you’re spending time on the coast, you cannot ignore the city’s fabulous beaches, perfect for relaxing and water-sports.

Outside of the Amalfi Coast, the Church of St. George on the Via del Duomo is another great religious building. Dating back to the 9th century monastery, the Church now stands in Baroque style and contains frescos by the 17th century painter Francesco Solimena. Equally worth a visit is the medieval Schola Medica Salernitana, the oldest university in Europe.

Continuing the theme of firsts, if you’re looking for a pleasant stroll, be sure to search out the Minerva Gardens in the Via Ferrante Sanseverino, being one of the first botanical gardens in Europe.

As well as a great monument in its own right, the Arechi Castle in the Via Benedetto Croce provides a fantastic panoramic of the city and its countryside.

Salerno houses a number of fine museums, some of the most prestigious being the Archaeological Museum in the Via S. Benedetto (looking at local history) and the Provincial Gallery in the Via del Mercanti (with a collection of works from the Renaissance to the 20th century, but specialising in the 18th century school of Solimena).

A number of festivals take place in Salerno during the year, including the Festival of St. Andrew in Amalfi between 25th and 27th June as well as 30th November. The city also hosts the Ancient Regata every four years, a rowing competition in June between Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice.

Shopping

Salerno is not exactly renowned for shopping due to nearby Naples. However, the local crafts specialise in fine leather goods. You can find decent outlets across the city, particularly down the Via Casa Vollaro and the Via San Leonardo.

Nightlife and Eating Out

The simple regional cuisine of Campania is given a local edge by Salerno’s port, so expect plenty of seafood. Most restaurants can be found in the city centre and the coastal areas but you’re never far away from somewhere to eat. Le Arcate by the beach of Atrani, the Ristorante Trattoria da Gemma in the Via Fr Gerardo Sasso and Al Cenacolo in the Piazza Alfano all provide great local food.

Salerno enjoys a busy nightlife thanks to the university and the numerous nightclubs like Ciclope in Marina di Camerota and the White Disco Club in Stadio Arechi. However, you can find pubs and wine bars around the city centre if you just want a drink.

For something even quieter, you will find the Giuseppe Verdi Theatre in the Piazza Luciani, particularly active during the summer.

Tourist Information

Salerno Provincial Tourist OfficeVia Velia, 15SalernoTel: +39 (0)89 230411eptinfo@xcom.it

Airport

Salerno does have its own Salerno Airport but the nearest international airport is Naples International Airport, some 40 km away. Buses, trains and taxis can be used to reach Salerno itself.

International and domestic connecting flights are available regularly.

British Airways (London-Gatwick), easyJet (London-Stansted) and bmi (London-Heathrow) all use NIA to and from British destinations.

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