Salerno with its privileged geographical position, as junction between the Amalfi Coast and the Cilento Coast, is the chief town of one of the largest provinces of Italy boasting 60% of its territory protected by UNESCO and about 200 miles of coasts.
Services and business are the strengths of the town economy, but also tourism is beginning to establish itself, but the attempts in the 60’s to create a strong industrial area can be considered essentially failed. Salerno is famous in the world thanks to the famous Medical School of Salerno, a centre par excellence for medicine during the Middle Ages, where women not only studied, but even taught. Trotula de Ruggiero, Abella Salernitana, Rebecca Guarna, Mercuriade, Costanza (or Costanzella) Calenda, Francesca Romana, are the most famous ‘mulieres salernitanae’, all women who graduated in the art of medicine.
The historical centre of Salerno boasts many vestiges of the medieval period, during which the town enjoyed a full splendour, and the town structure is still intact because the modern Salerno has mainly developed in the plain area, leaving the piedmont region of the ‘Colle Bonadies‘, where the ancient town is located, untouched. The Arechi Castle was the hub of defensive system of the city, a really inexpugnable fortress that, unlike many other manors, has not been transformed into a nobiliary palace, maintaining its stern aspect. From the castle, tourists can enjoy the wonderful and brethtaking panorama of the city and the Gulf of Salerno, and visit the small museum located inside.
In defense of the eastern side there is the fort ‘The Carnale‘ whose name is due to the small promontory on which it is located, and where in 872 the people of Salerno organized a surprise battle against a column of Saracens intending to besiege the city leaving a substantial heap of corpses to rot.
The tumultuous expansion of the 60’s has caused that the fort, formerly located in the suburbs, is now positioned at the centre and represents in some ways a border between the west and the east side of Salerno.
Do not miss the Cathedral, built by the Norman Prince Robert Guiscard and dedicated to the patron saint, St. Matthew; the Provincial Museum; the Diocesan Museum and the Museum of the Medical School of Salerno; the sixteenth-century Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation with its beautiful baroque bell tower by Sanfelice; Piazza Flavio Gioia, this square is called ‘la rotonda’ (the rotunda) because of its characteristic shape on which the eighteenth-century door Porta Nuova opens, through which you enter the old city; the magnificent baroque churches disseminated throughout the town.
The long and wide Promenade offers a pleasant place where to walk or wait for the boarding on the tourist ships crowding the two main ports. A dense presence of bars and restaurants characterize the so-called Salerno ‘movida’, where nightlife lovers will find many amusements and distractions, and can enjoy the typical local fish specialties. The green part of Salerno is formed by four major parks and a network of public gardens and villas. The Mercatello Park, with a size of 10 hectares is one of the largest urban parks in Italy, in relation to the number of residents (it connects three districts: Mariconda, Mercatello and Quartiere Europ); the Pinocchio Park is dedicated to tiny children, while the adjacent Irno Park boasts an educational role as well as relaxing; the seminary park offers impressive views thanks to its terraces.
A rest under the tall trees of the town park is a must, especially in summer. The Gardens of Minerva play a mainly cultural role; the area in which they are located was very useful to the doctors of the Medical School of Salerno to grow plants from which to draw the active ingredients necessary for the production of drugs. Still today you can learn about plant species of different origin walking among the ancient baths and beds. The Garden of Minerva also offer a ‘tea/tisane room’ where you can taste tisanes, herb teas, infusions, apertitifs and typical biscuits.
From the port of Salerno it is possible to reach the beautiful islands of Capri and Ischia. The Amalfi Coast is very close and easily reachable by car, SITA bus or ferry which in summer leave from Salerno for the Divine Coast. Vietri sul Mare is the first town of the Amalfi Coast and is about 5 km from Salerno. The municipality of Cetara is at 11 km. Maiori and Minori are respectively at 20 km and 21 km. Atrani and the contiguous Amalfi are located approximately at 25 km. Ravello with its spectacular views is at 29 km. Conca dei Marini and Praiano are respectively 30 km and 35 km far, Furore 35 km and the beautiful Positano lies at 42 km. Southly from Salerno the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Dianois a destination of great interest with its famous tourist locations. With its spectacular temples, Paestum is at 41 km, Agropoli at 53 Km, Acciaroli at 78 km, and the excavations of the famous town of Velia and Ascea at 85 km, Casal Velino at 82 km and Pisciotta at 97 km, the promontory of Palinuro with its splendid caves is at 116 Km, Marina di Camerota at 112 km. Although far from Salerno, the beautiful tourist resort on the Gulf of Policastro, Sapri and Maratea, and the beautiful Val d’Agri are worthy a visit too. Salerno is located very close to the ruins of Pompeii, which are located within 30km of highway, while Sorrento Coast is 56 km away.