Salerno Italy: Salerno is a lively seaport on the southeastern edge of Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Though the region is typically known as a jet-setters’ paradise, less-glitzy Salerno has become a popular destination for travelers seeking a more tranquil, but nonetheless fascinating place to discover ancient historical sights, sparkling beaches, nature parks, and authentic southern Italian cuisine.
Salerno has seen a succession of inhabitants and rulers, including the Etruscans, Romans, Lombards, Normans, Arabs, French, and Saracen pirates. It suffered a deadly plague and several earthquakes in the 17th and 20th centuries before being heavily bombed during WWII — it was the site of the 1943 Allied invasion of Italy. Fortunately today, Salerno is a thriving modern metropolis with ancient origins and plenty to keep visitors engaged for a few days.
Salerno is an ancient city and comune in Campania (southwestern Italy) and is the capital of the province of the same name. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The city is divided into three distinct zones: the medieval sector, the 19th-century sector, and the more densely populated post-war area, with its several apartment blocks.
Human settlement at Salerno has a rich and vibrant past, dating back to prehistoric times. The site has been one of the most important and strategic ports on the Mediterranean Sea, yielding a rich Greco-Roman heritage. It was an independent Lombard principality, Principality of Salerno, in the early Middle Ages. During this time, the Schola Medica Salernitana, the first medical school in the world, was founded. In the 16th century, under the Sanseverino family, among the most powerful feudal lords in Southern Italy, the city became a great center of learning, culture, and the arts, and the family hired several of the greatest intellectuals of the time. Later, in 1694, the city was struck by several catastrophic earthquakes and plagues. After a period of Spanish rule which would last until the 18th century, Salerno became part of the Parthenopean Republic.
In recent history, the city hosted Victor Emmanuel III, the King of Italy, who moved from Rome in 1943 after Italy negotiated peace with the Allies in World War II, making Salerno the home of the “government of the South” (Regno del Sud) and therefore provisional government seat for six months. Some of the Allied landings during Operation Avalanche (the invasion of Italy) occurred near Salerno. Today Salerno is an important cultural center in Campania and Italy.
What is Salerno Italy known for?
The patron saint of this city is Matthew and he is revered throughout Salerno in its various religious buildings. … As a tourist destination, Salerno benefits from its close proximity to the stunning and renowned Amalfi coast, but also its own myriad of beautiful architecture, gorgeous gardens, and sun-kissed promenade.
Italy, a country in south-central Europe, occupies a peninsula that juts deep into the Mediterranean Sea. Italy comprises some of the most varied and scenic landscapes on Earth and is often described as a country shaped like a boot. At its broad top stand the Alps, which are among the world’s most rugged mountains. Italy’s highest points are along with Monte Rosa, which peaks in Switzerland, and along with Mont Blanc, which peaks in France. The western Alps overlook a landscape of Alpine lakes and glacier-carved valleys that stretch down to the Po River and Piedmont. Tuscany, to the south of the Cisalpine region, is perhaps the country’s best-known region. From the central Alps, running down the length of the country radiates the tall Apennine Range, which widens near Rome to cover nearly the entire width of the Italian peninsula.
South of Rome the Apennines narrow and are flanked by two wide coastal plains, one facing the Tyrrhenian Sea and the other the Adriatic Sea. Much of the lower Apennine chain is near wilderness, hosting a wide range of species rarely seen elsewhere in Western Europe, such as wild boars, wolves, asps, and bears. The southern Apennines are also tectonically unstable, with several active volcanoes, including Vesuvius, which from time to time belches ash and steam into the air above Naples and its island-strewn bay. At the bottom of the country, in the Mediterranean Sea, lie the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
Italy’s political geography has been conditioned by this rugged landscape. With few direct roads between them, and with a passage from one point to another traditionally difficult, Italy’s towns and cities have a history of self-sufficiency, independence, and mutual mistrust. Visitors today remark on how unlike one town is from the next, on the marked differences in cuisine and dialect, and on the many subtle divergences that make Italy seem less a single nation than a collection of culturally related points in an uncommonly pleasing setting.
Palinuro is a small seaside resort in the southern Italian region of Campania. This stretch of Italy’s coastline is generally overlooked by foreign tourists, as it lies between the more popular Amalfi Coast to the north and Calabria to the south. Despite some drab modern developments, though, the coastline around Palinuro is lovely, and the sea is clean and inviting. Many Italian families head to the area each year for their summer holidays.
Palinuro is located on the Tyrrhenian coast, where the Cilento National Park meets the sea. The most famous feature of this stretch of coastline is Capo Palinuro, an imposing headland above the town’s harbor. The name Palinuro is said to be taken from the myth of Aeneas, whose helmsman, Palinurus, is supposedly buried here.
The area around Palinuro has a long history, but the present-day resort has grown up in the last few decades – in one case you can see where the street has been built through an old olive grove. The buildings are low-rise, the lanes are leafy and the atmosphere is relaxed, but there’s no denying that Palinuro lacks the historic charm of a typical Italian village. The main piazza is fairly small and used for car parking, and the church is modern rather than ancient. Another fact that may put off some tourists is that the settlement is on a slope above sea level, with no promenade. However, the town is a pleasant place, with an amiable and unpretentious holiday atmosphere. It is around a 20-minute walk to nice beaches in either direction from the town center, and some local hotels have their own stretch of seafront.
Since it is most popular with Italian tourists, the traditional holiday months of July and August are when the area is at its busiest. Outside these months you’ll find a much quieter atmosphere and cheaper accommodation.
Palinuro tourist information
The most useful tourist information I found in Palinuro was at a travel agency near the roundabout at the start of town, where you can also book train tickets and excursions. This is a good place to start planning your holiday once you’ve arrived in Palinuro. The agency is called Cilento Viaggi and is located at Via Acqua dell’Olmo, 248. Palinuro does have a tourist information office in the central piazza, but when I visited the opening hours were limited and unreliable. Useful bus timetables were pinned to the door, but otherwise, the office offered only very basic information; not even a decent town map.
Things to do in and around Palinuro
Palinuro’s principal tourist attraction is a boat ride around Capo Palinuro, visiting caves. The harbor is around a 15-20 minute walk from the village, down a quiet road. The harbor, used by small fishing and pleasure boats, nestles into the side of the headland. There are a couple of places to eat, a beach, and a kiosk selling tickets for boat tours. The small boats set off frequently – pretty much on demand – and cruise along the cliffs of Capo Palinuro. Several caves can be visited, each of which has its own special attraction – a ‘blue’ cave, a ‘blood’ grotto, and so on. They’re reasonably impressive and the outing is good fun.
Although the town itself isn’t right on the sea, there are some good beaches in and around Palinuro. Down by the harbor is a nice beach with a picturesque though not-terribly-good restaurant terrace alongside. On the far side of the headland are a couple of pretty coves. It would require some energy to access these on foot, but the boat tour stopped off here for 20 minutes – you could arrange simply to be dropped off and collected later. You can swim or paddle in beautifully clear water, with tiny fish swimming around your feet; a really idyllic spot.
On the slopes between the harbor and the ridge running out to the headland, there are some stretches of a woodland nature walk. It is also possible to walk out to the lighthouse crowning the promontory, though the walk is not particularly panoramic and the lighthouse is a fenced-off military zone. Various ruined forts are dotted along the headland and would make a good tourist attraction if they were cleared and opened with footpaths. One which can be reached is just above the harbor; a pleasant contoured path runs along through flowers to a ruined defensive tower with great views of the coastline and town.
Palinuro has a small museum set in a dusty little park above the sea. It contains information boards about the area’s history (in Italian) and displays of grave goods found in the local area, mostly from a necropolis related to the Greek and Roman site at Molpa. Moapa is now a cluster of ruins on an abandoned hill; it’s possible to walk there from Palinuro, though there isn’t a lot to see.
Car Rental Salerno Italy
Salerno is often overshadowed by the more well-known and popular Naples that lie to the west of the city however it is a fantastic and beautiful tourist destination in its own right and has a great deal to offer. Salerno is the capital of the province of the same name and lies in the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea with a current population of approximately 133,000. The patron saint of this city is Matthew and he is revered throughout Salerno in its various religious buildings.
During the Middle Ages, Salerno prospered greatly under the rule of the Lombard Dukes and was renowned as a center of medical studies and learning through its prestigious Medical School. In later years the city was the site of invasions during WW2 in Operation Avalanche and afterward saw a surge in population and economic development.
As a tourist destination, Salerno benefits from its close proximity to the stunning and renowned Amalfi coast, but also its own myriad of beautiful architecture, gorgeous gardens, and sun-kissed promenade. Attractions such as Salerno Cathedral and the Forte la Cardinale have a huge amount of history and artwork, whilst the historic old town center provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the city and enjoy this coastal destination.
1. Salerno Cathedral
More commonly known as the Duomo, Salerno Cathedral is the most important and historic church in the city and has stood since the 11th century.
Dedicated to Saint Matthew, the church has a Romanesque style and features a beautiful front façade complete with delicate arches and a triangular pediment.
Furthermore, a 56m high bell tower sits at the rear of the cathedral that displays an ornate top dome complete with decorative artwork in an Arabic/Norman style.
Inside the church is a plethora of religious artifacts dedicated to Saint Matthew and a host of fascinating decoration and artwork – the crypt in fact is said to hold the remains of the Saint.
2. Trieste Lungomare
Salerno has a wonderful coastal location and it also has a long stretch of beautifully maintained promenade known as the Trieste Lungomare.
Starting at the Piazza Della Liberta, the promenade stretches for approximately 1km right through to the Porto Turistico.
Along this pleasant stretch of the public walkway, you can find a host of shaded seating that is covered by palm trees.
Furthermore, at several intervals on the promenade, there is a series of Piazzas complete with statues and fountains.
In the evening, or in the sunshine, the Lungomare is a great place to take a gentle stroll after a busy day of sight-seeing.
3. Villa Comunale di Salerno
Created in the 19th century, this garden used to be the site of the town hall until it was transformed into this natural open space.
A plethora of exotic trees provide shade, and a small pond plays host to a variety of fish.
Furthermore, several beautiful statues stand guard including Giovanni Nicotera, Carlo Piscine, and Clemente Mauro – all of which were important Italian figures throughout history.
Events are sometimes held here too, but in general, the park is one of the best places in Salerno to sit back and find some rejuvenation.
4. Giardino della Minerva
A central walkway climbs through the middle of the garden and is covered with a beautiful white series of arches.
Each of the garden terraces is segmented and contains a different variety of plants, fauna, and even some herbs.
The terraces are themed and contain different species of plants and there are over 200 different varieties to behold.
For those who love the natural world, this finely maintained garden is a wonderful place to explore.
5. Salerno Harbour
Located near the large Piazza Della Liberta, Salerno Harbour is a hive of activity and is a fantastic place to walk through and watch the comings and goings of this busy port.
Walking along with the Via Porto you can head into the harbor and look at the many fishing, sailing and commercial boats that are moored on the piers.
Furthermore, if you head towards the Maritime Station and the Molo Manfredi Porto di Salerno, you can walk along a long stretch of the pier and view the cityscape of Salerno in all its glory.
At the eastern edge of Salerno, there is also the Tourist Harbour which is just as beautiful and features a myriad of tour boats taking passengers out to the Amalfi coast.
Things To Do In Salerno Italy
Situated in the province of Salerno, within the Campania region, the city of Salerno boasts an important position on the Tyrrhenian Sea, nestled in the scenic Gulf of Salerno. In proximity to the stunning Amalfi Coast, this modest city is widely recognized for housing the world’s first medical university, the Schola Medica Salernitana, establishing its historical significance as a hub of art, culture, and academia since the 16th century. Despite enduring numerous plagues, earthquakes, and periods of foreign dominance, Salerno stands today as a city abundant in intriguing sights and activities.
Although Salerno is frequently underrated, it is a vibrant city serving as a pivotal junction. The bustling port city strategically lies amidst Campania’s most renowned coastal regions – the Amalfi Coast and the Cilento National Park. The city bore witness to the Allied invasions during World War II, experiencing considerable damage. Yet, in contemporary times, Salerno has evolved into a key commercial center, featuring one of the largest seaports on the Tyrrhenian coast. Despite a predominantly modern visage, Salerno maintains a captivating historic core, comprising a labyrinth of quaint alleyways, stunning buildings, and noteworthy monuments.
Salerno’s history traces back to likely Etruscan origins, eventually becoming a Roman colony in 197 BC. Post the Roman Empire’s decline, the city was taken over by the Goths, Byzantines, and Lombards. By 839 AD, it emerged as the capital of an autonomous Lombard principality. In 1077, Robert Guiscard, the Norman leader, seized Salerno, designating it as his realm’s capital. However, under the Swabian rulers, Salerno’s importance dwindled as Naples ascended. In the 15th century, Salerno was conferred to the influential Colonna family by the Angevins. Subsequently, it was transferred to other renowned noble families such as Orsini, Sanseverino, and Grimaldi. From around 1590, Salerno partook in the fortunes of the Kingdom of Naples until Italy’s unification.
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For travelers, Salerno is an interesting point for touring around as it is in a central location and enjoys a hip nightlife and offers shops, restaurants, museums, and monuments. Its main draw is its transportation network: Salerno has a major railway station with excellent train connections to Naples, Rome, Paestum, and the south of Italy. During the summer season ferries, depart from Salerno’s port to reach Amalfi, Positano, and Capri. The SITA regional bus lines conveniently connect Salerno to the Capodichino airport in Naples, the central train station in Naples, and the Amalfi Coast towns of Vietri Sul Mare, Cetara, Minori, Maiori and Amalfi itself. The CSTP bus lines connect Salerno to the Cilento National Park area. In short, it’s in the center of everything you want to see in Campania!
Salerno is well known for its hot nightlife and entertainment scene, called the “Movida”. Show up in the area around the town hall in the evenings after 9:00 pm and join in. People gather in the street to chat, dine, stroll, drink, and hang out with friends as well as meet new ones. Venture into the alleys of the historic center to reach the Piazza Largo Campo, another popular gathering spot. Nearly every night in the summer and every weekend night in the winter is busy with the “Movida”. Go out and people-watch. In Salerno, don’t be surprised if you visit late and find yourself stuck in traffic at 2:00 in the morning!
If “Movida” isn’t your style, take a tranquil stroll along the Lungomare, the seaside promenade, which is one of the longest in Italy. Stop in at Bar Nettuno, across the road from the Lungomare, for the best gelato (ice cream) in town. Visit the sights of Salerno. The main monument is the Cathedral (Duomo), a 12th-century Romanesque building dedicated to the apostle, St. Matthew, who is the city’s patron saint. His body and that of Pope Gregorio VII (who was banished in Salerno) are kept inside the church.
The Diocesan Museum is located in the seminary in Piazza Plebiscito, and contains several lovely paintings, along with a famous ivory baldachin (altar canopy) from the 12th century, with biblical scenes and an illuminated Papal Proclamation, also from the 12th century. (Free entrance every day from 9 am to 6 pm.)
The Provincial Museum, housed in a restored wing of the former medieval abbey of Saint Benedetto, holds important archeological items found in the town and in various sites in the province, including a remarkable bronze cast head of Apollo dating to the first century BC. Facing the Museo Provinciale is the interesting Romanesque church of Saint Benedict, consecrated by Gregorio VII, who lived in the attached monastery.
The Longobard castle known as Castello di Arechi enjoys a great view over the town and the Mediterranean Sea. The Byzantine structure is one of the important sights of Salerno with a permanent exhibit to enhance the spectacular views.