A holiday in Salerno is a synthesis of what the Mediterranean can offer to anyone who wants to discover it more closely.
Salerno enjoys a spectacular position on the gulf. The city has enjoyed several periods of great splendour throughout its history, having also become an important academic centre with a well-known medical school. Today it is experiencing a full revival as a destination for tourism and culture, as well as implementing an urban renovation plan of international importance. Salerno is becoming increasingly welcoming for tourists and visitors from around the world, thanks to its wide range of accommodation facilities and the many holiday packages to Salerno available throughout the year. Its province is one of the most extensive in the region and includes the Amalfi Coast, the archaeological area of Paestum and the Cilento.
The heart of the city is the medieval quarter, the main artery of which is Via dei Mercanti, once a pivotal centre for trade. The narrow streets of the centre, now lined with well-established shops and eateries, follow the traces of the medieval town plan, including beautiful old buildings and much of the religious architecture. The commercial life of the city has however taken root in the 19th century districts close to the Lungomare Trieste, one of the longest seaside promenades in Italy, lined with palm trees, which provides a fascinating view of the gulf on clear days.
One of the easiest and most picturesque routes to follow through Salerno starts at Piazza Portanova, with a visit to the tiny Chiesa di San Pietro in Vinculis, with its remarkable polychrome marble altar. The door is surmounted by the statue of Saint Matthew and to see it you need to walk down the "caciocavalli" alley to Piazza Flavio Gioia, commonly known as "La Rotonda", now one of Salerno's most popular meeting places. At the heart of Via Mercanti, is Palazzo Pinto, which houses the provincial art gallery. The gallery was created after the recovery, from around the territory of Salerno, of works dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. Beyond the art gallery you'll cross Via Duomo on the left and the entrance to the church of San Giorgio, one of the most interesting examples of Baroque architecture in the city. The church was once part of the convent of the same name, the premises of which now house the local offices of the tax police and Carabinieri (national military police). The interior is in a Latin cross shape with a single nave surmounted by barrel vaults.
Returning to Via Duomo, Vicolo S. Giorgio leads to Piazza S. Agostino, the site of Palazzo S. Agostino, now the offices of the provincial authority, and the Chiesa di S. Agostino e SS. Apostoli. Turning left, along Vicolo della Giudaica, you'll come to the Chiesa di S. Lucia, where the Jewish quarter used to be. From Via Mercanti and Via delle Botteghelle you'll arrive at Palazzo D'Avossa, with the family emblem still visible, and further on Palazzo Giannattasio on Piazza Alfano I. Walking up to Piazza Abate Conforti, along Via Trotula, you'll come to the steps leading to Montevergine, near the ancient walls. Here a small dome marks the entrance to the Monastery of Santa Maria de Monalibus.
Continuing along Via Porta di Ronca, the Giardino della Minerva is a little corner of paradise that has belonged to the family of Matteo Silvatico, an eminent doctor of the Schola Medica with a profound knowledge of plants for the production of medicines, since the 12th century. It is actually a terraced garden which extends along the axis of the Villa Comunale towards Castello di Arechi. The Garden, which can now be visited in all its splendour, was the first botanical garden in Europe for the cultivation of plants for therapeutic purposes.
Salerno's main symbol, albeit slightly outside the city, is the Castello di Arechi, which dominates the city from around three hundred metres above sea level and was the northern point of a triangular defensive layout which coincided with the slopes of Monte Bonadies. The initial construction phase is attributed to Byzantine builders, while Lombard prince Arechi II strengthened its defences, giving it the appearance you can still see today. Recent excavations have revealed the chronology of the various layers of the settlement in the Norman, Angevin and Aragonese eras. The monumental complex was further developed with the addition of the so-called "Bastiglia" tower at the northern end of the castle as a watchtower with views across the gulf of Salerno.
If you can't wait to admire this spectacular architecture with your own eyes, plan your next holiday in Salerno and surrender to the charm of this lively seaside resort.