Campania - Places to Visit - Salerno
The town lies at the centre of the Gulf, at the mouth of the Irno River valley, not far from Piana del Sele towards which it is rapidly expanding.
Probably of Etruscan origin, it was a Roman colony in 197 BC. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was conquered by the Goths, Byzantines and, in 646, by the Lombards, who annexed it to the duchy of Benevento.
In 839 it became the capital of an independent Lombard principality and later raided by the Saracens. Robert Guiscard, the Norman ruler, conquered Salerno in 1077, making it the capital of his dominions; the foundation of the famous Scuola Medica Salernitana (school of medicine) enhanced its importance.
Under the Swabian rulers, it declined with the growing importance of Naples, and in the 15th century the Angevins granted it in feud to the Colonna family, then later to the Orsinis, Sanseverinos and Grimaldis. It shared the fortunes of Naples after 1590 until the unification of Italy.
The city is structured in three distinct nuclei: the medieval part, on the slopes behind the coast, characterized by narrow winding streets, the eighteenth century area beyond the old walls, and the modern town, built after the Second World War, mainly towards the south, often in a haphazard sprawl.
The monuments include the Duomo (11th century) built by Robert Guiscard, beside the fine Romanesque campanile, inside are two outstanding magnificently mosaiced ambos (pulpits) dating to the 12th and 13th centuries; the Romanesque portal, known as the `Porta dei Leoni' (11th century) is also of interest; the church of S. Maria delle Grazie (end 15th century), church of S. Giorgio (Baroque), Palazzo Pinto (12th century), the medieval aqueduct, Arechi Castle (Byzantine), with a fine view of the city.
Salerno's economy, facilitated by the lines of communication, is based on the marketing of provincial agricultural products, on maritime activities and on banking.
Industry has developed in the food, engineering, textiles and ceramics sectors. There is a high proportion of tourist trade.
Events: Festa di S. Matteo (21 september), Concert Season at the Teatro Verdi, Estate Musicale (with ballet) at the Torre Acornale.
Famous People: Tommaso Guardati, `Masuccio Salernitano' (novelist, 15th century), Andrea Sabatini, `Andrea da Salerno' (artist, c. 1480-1530), Giovanni Amendola (politician, 1886-1926).
Cultural Institutions: Conservatorio, Accademia Musicale Salernitana, Provincial Archeological Museum, Museo del Duomo (valuable 12th century ivory altar front, 13th century illuminated parchment of the Exultet, Art Gallery).
In the Province: Battipaglia (agricultural and industrial centre), Cava de' Tirreni (Disfida dei Trombonieri, Corpus Domini, nearby Trinity Abbey), Nocera Inferiore (Archeological Museum), Amalfi (Museo della Carta), Ravello, Positano, Bagni Contursi (spa), Padula (Archeological Museum of west Lucania), Vietri (Museo della Ceramica).