Salerno is one of those slightly underrated cities, but which thanks to its beautiful Christmas lights has also been rediscovered for the rest it has to offer: history, sea and an enviable position between the Amalfi Coast and Cilento. The city was particularly prosperous during the Lombard domination, when it became the capital of a territory that included a large part of southern Italy, the Principality of Salerno. Testimonies of the Lombard past they can be found in the monuments that characterize the historic center and in the Arechi Castle, which dominates the city. In addition, the first medical institution in Europe was established in Salerno at the beginning of the Middle Ages, the Salernitana Medical School.
If you want to discover the city of Campania without missing any of its main attractions, here are the 10 things to see absolutely in Salerno.
- Castle of Arechi
- The Garden of Minerva and Salerno Medical School
- Monumental Complex of Santa Sofia
- Salerno Cathedral
- Medieval aqueduct
- Lungomare Trieste
- Historic Center and Via Mercanti
- Complex of San Pietro a Corte
- Villa Comunale
- Artist Lights
- User questions and comments
1 - Arechi Castle
Medieval fortress overlooking the city and the entire gulf from 300 meters high, Castello Arechi was the residence chosen by the Lombard prince Arechi II when he had the capital of the duchy transferred from Benevento to Salerno. Of Roman origin, the fortress was reinforced by the prince to become a practically impregnable castle.
Today it looks like a large monumental complex which often hosts, in some halls, conferences and private ceremonies, as well as a nature park, the headquarters of the Provincial Enoteca and a refreshment point. At the castle there are also two museums, the Medieval one and the Multimedia one, where it is possible to admire weapons, ceramics, glass, metals, coins and tools found throughout the Salerno area. It goes without saying that the panorama that can be admired worth the visit.
- reachable in a few minutes by car or by bus 19 from the center to the stop Strada Per Croce-Castello - Get directions
- Tue-Sat 9: 00-17: 00, Sun until 15:30
- full € 4,00, reduced € 2,00 (groups over 15 people and children between 18 and 25 years), free up to 18 years and over 65
2 - The Garden of Minerva and Salerno Medical School
The Salernitana Medical School was the first medical university in Europe. Already around the year 1000, in fact, those who dealt with medicine in Salerno had already experimented and found some remedies for the most common diseases of the time, so much so that they were considered the first professors of medicine of the modern world. In reality, these were quite practical remedies, such as covering up, drinking milk, staying in bed and warm, eating light food, and resting to recover from fever. These very first medical advice derived above all from the experience of Salerno women.
In the center of Salerno there is also the Giardino della Minerva, a perfectly preserved and visitable place: right here the Salerno Medical School taught students the use of medicinal herbs and for this reason it is considered as the first botanical garden in Europe.
- Garden 8 min walk from the historic center, bus lines 1 and 26, De Renzi 62 stop - Get directions / Virtual Museum of the Salernitana Medical School in Via Mercanti, walk or bus 43, Duomo stop - Get directions
- Gardens Tue-Sun 9: 30-16: 30, until 19:30 or 20:00 in the summer months. Museum Tue-Wed 9: 30-13: 00, Thu-Sat 9: 30-13: 00 and 17: 00-20: 00, Sun 10: 00-13: 00
- both € 3,00
3 - Monumental Complex of Santa Sofia
The complex includes not only an ancient monastery dating back to the th century, built by the Benedictine Order in honor of Santa Sofia, but also theformer Church of Santa Sofia. If before it housed the monks who built it, later the monastery was home to the nuns of the same order. In 1592 it was then entrusted to the Jesuit Fathers and served as a school, Pope Clement XVI then suppressed the order in 1778 and entrusted the structure to the Carmelites. In 1807, during the Napoleonic period and until 1938 it became a civil court and then a state school, to be subsequently definitively abandoned for several years.
Recently restored, the building has regained its former beauty and can today show off a neoclassical style which makes it the ideal location for events, exhibitions and events.
- a few minutes walk from the historic center along Via dei Canali or by bus 43, Abate Conforti stop - Get directions
- lun-ven 8:00-12:00 e 16:00-19:00
4 - Salerno Cathedral
Also known as the Cathedral of San Matteo, this religious building is dedicated to Santa Maria degli Angeli and the Apostle Matthew. The current building rises above what was an early Christian church, in turn erected on the ruins of a Roman temple.
Its baroque facade hides a four-sided portico which is the only Italian example together with that of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan. The interiors reflect the various extensions and changes that have taken place over the years, the Crypt holds the remains of St. Matthew the Evangelist, patron saint of Salerno. Also part of the complex is an Arab-Norman bell tower, built in the mid-th century, and the Chapel of the Treasury with some Gothic relics and sculptures depicting saints from Salerno.
- it is located in the historic center, but it can also be reached by bus 43 to Piazza Alfano I - Get directions
- Cathedral Mon-Sat 8: 30-20: 00, Sunday and public holidays 8: 30-13: 00 and 16: 00-20: 00; Crypt Mon-Sat 9: 00-19: 45, Sunday and holidays 8: 30-13: 00 and 16: 00-18: 00; Treasury Chapel 21 every month 9: 00-13.00
- Cathedral free, Crypt € 1,00
5 - Medieval Aqueduct
Another important city symbol, the Medieval Aqueduct of Salerno dates back to the th century and is located in the city center. In ancient times it had the function of supply of water for the monastery of San Benedetto. It has large arches and measures a few hundred meters, which makes it impossible not to notice it in the profile of the city. It originally measured 650 meters in length and about 21 meters in height.
There are some legends surrounding this architectural work: the most widespread is linked to its construction, which seems to have taken place in a single night thanks to the help of some demons called by a magician. This story has earned the Aqueduct some nicknames such as "Archi dei DiaFlights" and "Ponte dei DiaFlights".
- a few minutes walk from the historic center along Via Velia or by bus 43, Arce stop - Mutilati intersection - Get directions
- always accessible
6 - Trieste waterfront
Considered the most beautiful in Italy in the s, Lungomare Trieste is a pleasant walk of 2 km which runs along the sea and offers a beautiful view that sweeps from Cilento to the Amalfi Coast. It connects the port to the beach of Santa Teresa and is made up of three avenues parallel to the historic center, embellished with tall palm trees and historic buildings.
È one of the favorite places of Salerno and tourists, both in winter and in summer, frequented by young people and families but also by sportsmen for their daily training. It is also often the scene of events and shows, markets and fairs.
- connected to the historic center by many narrow streets that lead to the sea, it is also crossed by most of the urban lines that make several stops right on the Lungomare - Get directions
- always accessible
7 - Historic Center and Via Mercanti
The historic center of Salerno is almost entirely pedestrianized and hosts restaurants, bars and shops, as well as some ancient craft shops. IS perfect for a relaxing walk to discover the city and its shop windows, discovering every corner and secret!
The ideal route starts from the station and passes through the Lungomare, without forgetting Via Mercanti, the oldest and most particular street in the city. In the Middle Ages, the period to which its construction and constitution dates back, it represented the main street where commercial exchanges and various communications took place. Along Via Mercanti you cross the entire historic center, taking a step back into the city's history.
- walk from the station, Via Marcanti is easily reachable from the Arco di Arechi and Piazza Portanova, or by bus 43 to the Duomo stop - Get directions
- always accessible
8 - Complex of San Pietro a Corte
Larghetto San Pietro a Corte, which can be reached by crossing Via dei Mercanti, is one of the most important places in the city's history. Here is the complex of San Pietro in Corte, used in a different way over the centuries.
It was born in Roman times as a spa, then it was transformed into a small church and cemetery in early Christian periods, later converted to a private chapel dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul and for the exclusive use of Prince Arechi II. During the Middle Ages it changed use again and became seat of Parliament and place for awarding degrees to students of the Salerno Medical School. The complex testifies in a more or less visible way all the eras passed through, with the ancient Roman frigidarium and the external bell tower dating back to the th century.
- easily accessible on foot from Via dei Mercanti - Get directions
- mar-sab 9:30-18:30, dom 10:00-19:00
9 - Villa Comunale
These are the public gardens of the city, to date one of the favorite meeting places for the inhabitants of Salerno, together with the Lungomare Trieste. Enriched by a large fountain and several statues, the park underwent a significant restoration in the s, during which lush Mediterranean vegetation was added.
Inside there is also a pond and a refreshment point. And then one of the main locations of the Christmas lights which are part of Luci d'Artista, while in summer it hosts numerous other events as exhibitions of crafts, flowers and rare plants.
- in two minutes on foot from the historic center or by buses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 40, 42 and 43 coming from any direction, Teatri Verdi stop - Get directions
- every day 8: 00-24: 00
10 - Artist's Lights
It is precisely to this attraction that Salerno owes its recent tourist rediscovery. The event called Luci D'Artista has been lighting up every Christmas in the city since 2006, thanks to spectacular lights that decorate the center of Salerno from the beginning of November to the end of January. Not only the main squares are interested, but also the streets, parks and the municipal villa.
Every year Salerno is "invaded" by almost a million people who come from all over Italy and from abroad admire a unique show of its kind. To complete the event there are also Christmas markets and, starting from Christmas 2016, also a large Ferris wheel on the Lungomare Trieste.
- event held in different streets of the city
- always accessible
Plan your stay in Salerno: flights, hotels and tours
Far from the most popular itineraries for those visiting southern Italy, Salerno represents instead a perfect destination for those who want to know Campania and start visiting the Amalfi Coast and Cilento.
Clean, tidy but with a strong character, Salerno offers numerous possibility of stay suitable for all budgets, with prices starting from € 50,00 per night. The food is genuine and the local recipes conquer even the most demanding palates, you can find the classic pizza at more than affordable prices and excellent street food (such as the famous "cuoppo" of fish) for just a few euros.
It is also, being less crowded than other cities on the Amalfi Coast, it is ideal for enjoying a bit of calm and relaxation and perhaps making a base for exploring the surrounding areas, including the coast thanks to various boat excursions.
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