Salerno Tourist Attractions

Salerno, ItalySalerno, Italy

Salerno, capital of the province of the same name, lies some 50km/31mi southeast of Naples at the north end of the Gulf of Salerno, where the hills of the Sorrento peninsula fall steeply down to the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The old town, rising up the slopes of the hill on the site of the ancient Salernum, still preserves many memories of its great days during the medieval period. It had the oldest medical school in Europe, which flourished from the 11th century until it was closed down by Murat, Napoleon's brother- in-law, in 1812.

Harbor and Town Center

Along the seafront to the east of the harbor, now used only by local shipping (trips to Capri, Amalfi and Positano), extends the Lungomare Trieste, a fine promenade lined by imposing modern buildings and affording extensive views. Parallel to the Lungomare Trieste is Via Roma, which with its continuation to the southeast, the Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, is the town's principal traffic artery. At the west end of Via Roma we come to the Piazza Amendola, bounded on the east by the Palazzo di Città (Town Hall) and on the southwest by the Prefecture. Behind the Prefecture are the beautiful Public Gardens (Villa Comunale), on the west side of which is the Teatro Verdi.

Cathedral of San Matteo

Half-way along Via Roma stands the Palazzo di Provincia. From here Via del Duomo runs north, crossing the picturesque Via dei Mercanti, to the cathedral of San Matteo, built about 1080 in the time of Robert Guiscard and restored in 1768 and after 1945. A flight of steps leads up to an atrium with 28 ancient columns from Paestum and fourteen ancient sarcophagi. The magnificent bronze doors were made in Constantinople in 1099.
Above the doorway is a large half-length mosaic of St Matthew, of the Norman period. In the nave are two ambos (12th century) with rich Cosmatesque mosaic decoration, and near the right-hand one is an Easter candlestick decorated in similar style. At the end of the north aisle is the splendid tomb of Margaret of Anjou (d. 1412).
The pavement of the choir and the choir screens are decorated with mosaics. In the chapel to the right of the high altar is the tomb of Pope Gregory VII, who died in Salerno in 1085; in the apse of the chapel is a mosaic figure of the Archangel Michael (1260).
In the richly decorated crypt under the altar lie the remains of the Evangelist Matthew, brought here from Paestum.

Cathedral Museum

In the Cathedral Museum in Salerno is a 12th century altar frontal, with ivory reliefs of Biblical scenes.

Museo Provinciale in Salerno

A little way east of the cathedral in Salerno, in Via San Benedetto, is the interesting Provincial Museum, with antiquities, including an over-life-size bronze head of Apollo of the first century B.C. and pictures.
Address: Via San Benedetto 28, I-84100 Salerno, Italy

Castello di Arechi

From the Cathedral of San Matteo in Salerno it is a 45minutes' walk to the old Lombard Castello di Arechi (263m/868ft) on the hill northwest of the town. The castle was strengthened by Robert Guiscard in the 11th century. From here there are extensive views.
Address: Via Benedetto Croce 1, I-84121 Salerno, Italy

Surroundings

Cava de' Tirreni, Italy

Near Salerno, surrounded by hills, is the attractively situated little town of Cava de' Tirreni (180m/594ft; pop. 50,000), a popular holiday resort. On the hills around the town are dotted slender round towers, many of which are still used to trap wild pigeons in October, the birds being attracted by small white stones thrown from the towers and are then caught in nets.

Cava - Monte San Liberatore

2.5km/1.5mi southeast of Cava lies Alessia (270m/891ft), from which it is a 45 minutes' walk up Monte San Liberatore (466m/1,538ft), perhaps the finest viewpoint in the Gulf of Salerno.

La Trinità della Cava

3.5km/2mi southwest of Cava, on Corpo di Cava, stands the Benedictine abbey of La Trinità della Cava, founded in 1011. The present buildings date from the late 18th century. The church contains marble and mosaic altars, tombs of the earliest abbots and a 12th century marble pulpit. Other notable features are the chapter-house (16th century), the Romanesque cloister (small museum), the old crypt, a picture gallery and the archives.

Velia (Elea)

In addition to Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum there is the interesting Roman site of Velia (south of Salerno and Paestum), once a popular resort of the Roman aristocracy, which has the remains of a number of villas and town gates. 5km/17ft beneath the Roman city were found remains of the Greek town of Elea, including some fine pieces of statuary and the notable Porta Rosa (fourth century B.C.), a masterpiece of Greek architecture. The Greek town was founded in 536 B.C. by Phocaeans who had been driven out of their original settlement at Alalia on Corsica. Between c. 540 and 460 B.C. this was the home of the famous Eleatic school of philosophy led by Xenophanes, Parmenides and Zeno; the town also had a noted school of medicine. At that time Elea probably had a population of 40,000, and its walls had a total length of 6km/3.5mi, later extended to 7km/4.5mi. The excavation of the ancient city (under which earlier remains dating from the eighth century were found) is still in progress (museum exhibits in various buildings).
On a hill to the north of the site excavations have brought to light the foundations of a temple of the fifth century B.C., which was destroyed during the construction of the medieval castle, together with remains of a square tower of the fourth century B.C., three smaller temples, a sacrificial altar, several dwelling houses (second century B.C.) and the road from the acropolis to the harbor.

Avellino, Italy

About 30km/19mi north of Salerno lies Avellino (348m/1,148ft; pop. 57,000), capital of the province of the same name and the see of an archbishop. The town has food and textile industries and is a trade center for agricultural produce.

Palinuro, Italy

Along the bays of Naples and Salerno in particular there are numerous seaside resorts, some of them very elegant and fashionable. Further south is the resort of Palinuro (53m/174ft), with excellent facilities for all kinds of water sports (diving center). To the west of the town is the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto), which is accessible only by boat.

Capo Palinuro

2.5km/1.5mi southwest of Palinuro lies Capo Palinuro (203m/670ft; lighthouse), the south side of which falls sheer down to the sea. Here, too, are several caves accessible only from the sea.

Grotta di Pertosa, Italy

From the A3 motorway east of Salerno an attractive detour can be made by way of the little town of Auletta (280m/924ft), below the north side of the Monti Alburni (1,742m/5,749ft), to the stalactitic Grotta di Pertosa, a cave system 2,250m/7,425ft long. The caves were inhabited from the end of the Neolithic period.

Certosa di San Lorenzo, Italy

A detour can be made off the A3 motorway in southern Campania. Just outside Padula (699m/2,307ft; pop. 6,000) stands the Certosa di San Lorenzo, founded in 1308, a massive building dating mostly from the 17th and 18th century, with three beautifully arcaded courtyards and a large external staircase by Vanvitelli.

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