is a town in southern Italy
, capital of the province
of the same name, in the region of Campania
. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno
on the Tyrrhenian Sea
Salerno is the main town in the Costiera Amalfitana (the "Amalfi Coast" on the Tyrrhenian, which includes the famous towns of Amalfi, Positano, and others) and is mostly known for its Schola Medica Salernitana (the first University of Medicine in the world).
In recent history the city hosted the King of Italy, who moved from Rome in 1943 after Italy negotiated a peace with the Allies in World War II. A brief so-called "government of the South" was then established in the town, that became the "Capital" of Italy for some months in 1944. Some of the Allied landings during Operation Avalanche (the invasion of Italy) occurred near Salerno.
The city is situated at the north-western end of the plain of the Sele river, at the exact beginning of the Amalfi coast. The small river Irno crosses through the central section of Salerno.
The climate is Mediterranean, with a hot and relatively dry summer (23°C/74°F in August) and a rainy fall and winter (8°C/47°F in January). Usually there are nearly 1,000 mm of rain every year. The strong wind that comes from the mountains toward the Gulf of Salerno makes the city very windy (mainly in winter). But this fact gives Salerno a lot of sun because the clouds are quickly blown away, giving the advantage of being one of the most sunny towns of Italy.
The area of what is now Salerno has been continuously settled since pre-historical
times, although the first certain signs of human presence date to the period between the ninth and sixth centuries BC. We know the Samnites
city of Irna
, situated across the Irno river, in today's Salernitan quarter of Fratte. This settlement represented an important base for Etruscan trade with the Greek colonies of Posidonia
The Roman city
With the Roman
advance in Campania, Irna began to lose its importance, being supplanted by the new Roman colony (194 BC) of Salernum
, developing around an initial castrum
. The new city, which gradually lost its military function in favour of its role as a trade center, was connected to Rome by the Via Popilia
, which ran towards Lucania
and Reggio Calabria
Archaeological remains, although fragmentary, suggest the idea of a flourishing and lively city. Under the Emperor Diocletian, in the late third century AD, Salernum became the administrative centre of the "Bruttia and Lucania" province.
In the fifth century Salerno remained an important center under the Ostrogoth domination of Italy.
In the following century, during the Gothic Wars, the Goths were defeated by the Byzantines, whose domination however later lasted only fifteen years (from 553 to 568), before the Lombards invaded almost the whole peninsula. Like many coastal cities of southern city (Gaeta, Sorrento, Amalfi), Salerno initially remained untouched by the newcomers, falling only in 646. It subsequently became part of the Duchy of Benevento.
The Lombard city
Under the Lombard dukes Salerno enjoyed the most splendid period of its history.
In 774 Arechi II transferred the seat of the Duchy of Benevento to Salerno, in order to elude Charlemagne's offensive and to secure for himself the control of a strategic area, the centre of coastal and internal communications in Campania.
With Arechi II, Salerno grew to great splendour, becoming a centre of studies with its famous Medical School. The Lombard prince ordered the city to be fortified; the Castle on the Bonadies mountain had already been built with walls and towers. In 839 Salerno declared independent from Benevento, becoming the capital of a flourishing principality stretching out to Capua, northern Calabria and Puglia up to Taranto.
Around the year 1000 prince Guaimar IV annexed Amalfi, Sorrento, Gaeta and the whole duchy of Puglia and Calabria, starting to conceive a future unification of the whole southern Italy under Salerno's arms. The coins minted in the city circulated in all the Mediterranean, with the Opulenta Salernum wording to certify its richness.
However, the stability of the Principate was continually shaken by the Saracen attacks and, most of all, by internal struggles. In 1056, one of the numerous plots led to the fall of Guaimar. His weaker son Gisulf II succeeded him, but the begin of the decline for the principality had begun. In 1077 Salerno reached its zenith but soon lost all its territory to the Normans.
Salerno under the Normans, Hohenstaufen and Anjou
On December 13
the Norman conqueror Robert Guiscard
, who had married Guaimar IV's daughter Sichelgaita
, besieged Salerno and defeated his brother-in-law Gisulf. This act put an end to hundreds of years of Lombard dominance, but did not check the city's vitality. In this period the royal palace (Castel Terracena) and the magnificent Arab-Gothic style cathedral were built, and science was boosted as the Salerno Medical School
, considered the most ancient medical institution of European West, reached its maximum splendour.
Salerno played a conspicuous part in the fall of the Norman kingdom. After the Emperor Henry VI's invasion on behalf of his wife, Constance, the heiress to the kingdom, in 1191, Salerno surrendered and promised loyalty on the mere news of an incoming army. This so disgusted the archbishop, Nicholas of Ajello, that he abandoned the city and fled to Naples, which held out in a siege. In 1194, the situation reversed itself: Naples capitulated, along with most other cities of the Mezzogiorno, and only Salerno resisted. It was sacked and pillaged, much reducing its importance and prosperity. Henry had his reasons, though. He had entrusted Constance to the citizens and they had betrayed him and handed her over to King Tancred. Her combined treachery and stubbornness cost Salerno much after the Hohenstaufen conquest. Henry's son, Frederick II, moreover, issued a series of edicts that reduced Salerno's role in favour of Naples (in particular, the foundation of the University of Naples in that city).
Following the advice of Giovanni da Procida (a famous citizen of that time), King Manfred of Sicily, Frederick II's son, ordered a dock that still now has his name, to be built.
Moreover Manfred founded Saint Matthew's Fair, which was the most important in the south of Italy. After the Angevin conquest the city was particularly beautified by the work of the famous sculptor, Boboccio da Piperno, admired by Queen Consort Margherita of Durazzo who took up her abode in Salerno and was buried in the monumental tomb, which is today in the cathedral.
Salerno and the revival of medical learning in Western Europe
A noted medical school
, or series of schools, existed at Salerno from at least the tenth century, and by the eleventh century it was widely acknowledged by contemporaries as the centre of medical knowledge in western Europe, in much the same way as Alexandria had been in the ancient world.
Around 1060 a Benedictine monk and native of Carthage, Constantine the African, arrived at the Abbey of Monte Cassino, 100 miles to the north of Salerno. With his knowledge of Arabic and Greek as well as Latin, he began to translate many of the medical texts from ancient Greece and Rome from the surviving Arabic translations into Latin. Constantine translated around twenty major works himself, such as Galen's Ars Parva, Hippocratic work including the Aphorisms and the Prognostics and the great encyclopedic work known as the patengi. However, his most significant translation was probably the Isogoge of Joanittius, which would serve as an introduction to medical theory and practise for centuries.
The Princes of Sanseverino
From the fourteenth century onwards, most of the Salerno province became the territory of the Princes of Sanseverino, powerful feudal lords who acted as real owners of the region. They accumulated an enormous political and administrative power and attracted artists and men of letters in their own princely palace. In the fifteenth century the city was the scene of battles between the Angevin
and the Aragonese
royal houses with whom the local lords took sides alternatingly.
In the first decades of the sixteenth century the last descendent of the Sanseverino princes was in conflict with the Aragonese viceroy, causing the ruin of the whole family and the beginning of a long period of decadence for the city. The years 1656, 1688 and 1694 represent sorrowful dates for Salerno: the plague and the earthquake which caused many victims.
A slow renewal of the city occurred in the eighteenth century with the end of the Spanish dominion and the construction of many refined houses and churches characterising the main streets of the historical centre.
In 1799 Salerno was incorporated into the Parthenopean Republic. During the Napoleonic era, first Joseph Bonaparte and then Joachim Murat ascended the Neapolitan throne. The latter decreed the closing of the Salerno Medical School, that had been declining for decades to the level of a theoretical school. In the same period even the religious Orders were suppressed and numerous ecclesiastical properties were confiscated.
The city expanded beyond the ancient walls and sea connections were potentiated as they represented an important road network that crossed the town connecting the eastern plain with the area leading to Vietri and Naples.
Salerno during the Risorgimento
Despite the loyalty to the Borbons in agrarian Mezzogiorno
as a whole, the majority of the population of Salerno supported ideas of the Risorgimento
, and many of them joined Garibaldi
in his struggle for unification>
19th century industrialization
After the unification of Italy
a slow urban development continued, many suburban areas were enlarged and large public and private buildings were created. The city went on developing till the Second World War. Its population rose from 20 thousand people around 1861s unification to 80 thousands in early 20th century.
During 19th century foreign industries start settling in Salerno: in 1830 a first textile mill was established by the Swiss entrepreneur Züblin Vonwiller, followed by Schlaepfer-Wenner's textile mills and dye factories; the Wenner family settled permanently in Salerno
At same time Dini's flour mills and pasta factories were founded.
In 1877 the city was the site of as many as 21 textile mills employing around 10 thousand workers; in comparison with the four thousand employed in Turin's textile industry, Salerno was sometimes referred to as the "Manchester of the two Sicilies".
World War II, "Salerno Capital" and after
In September 1943, Salerno was the scene of the Operation Avalanche landing of the Allies
and suffered a lot of damage
From February 12 to July 17 1944, it hosted the Government of Marshal Pietro Badoglio. In those months Salerno was the temporary capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and the King Victor Emmanuel III lived in a mansion in its outskirts.
The post-war period was difficult for all the Italian cities, but Salerno managed to improve little by little and to aim at becoming a modern European city. In recent years the town administration has taken great strides giving a great impulse to the revaluation of the whole urban territory.
The city's population doubled in a few years, from 80,000 in 1946 to nearly 160,000 in 1976.
Salerno is located at the geographical center of a triangle nicknamed Tourist Triangle of the 3 P (namely a triangle with the corners in Pompei, Paestum and Positano). This peculiarity gives to Salerno special tourist characteristics that are increased by the many local points of tourist interest (like the Lungomare Trieste, the Castello di Arechi, the Duomo and the Museo Didattico della Scuola Medica Salernitana.
In the last years the renewal of the historical centre has been directed towards the rediscovery of the artistic and cultural treasures of an exceptional city.
Salerno appears as a welcoming community for tourists from all over the world with its historical centre, where it is possible to admire both the traces of its ancient history and the fervour of artisan shops and places for cultural and musical aggregation attended by thousands of people.
- Lungomare Trieste The "Promenade of Salerno" was created from the sea during the fifties and it is one of the best in Italy, at the level (and imitation) of those in the French Riviera. It has an extension of nearly five miles with many rare palms.
- Castello di Arechi.The "Arechi Castle" is a massive castle commanding the city from a 300 m hill. It was enlarged by Arechi II over a pre-existing Roman-Byzantine construction. Today it houses rooms for exhibitions and congresses. The Castle offers a complete and spectacular view of the city and the gulf of Salerno.
- Centro storico di Salerno. The "Historical Downtown Salerno" is believed to be one of the best maintained in the Italian peninsula. Its "Via dei mercanti" (merchant street) is even today the main bulk of the shopping in the city. The Duomo is its center.
- Giardino della Minerva. The "Garden of Minerva" is situated in the fringes of the Castle hill that dominates the old Salerno. In it can be found the medieval "Hortus sanitatis" of the Schola Medica Salernitana, that was the first European "Orto Botanico" (botanic garden).
- Parco del Mercatello. The "Park of Mercatello" is situated in the eastern section of the city. It was made in 1998 and with its ten Ha is one the biggest in Italy.
- Forte La Carnale. The "Castle La Carnale" got his name from a medieval battle against the Arabs and is part of a sport complex (with pool, tennis courts and hockey). Actually it is used as a cultural center for expositions and meetings.
- Villa Comunale di Salerno. The garden of the old city hall is actually a huge recreation area in front the Salerno Theater (the "Teatro Verdi"), with a fountain (called "Don Tullio") done in 1790.
- Colle Bellara. It is a hill from where it is possible to see the Amalfi Coast up to the Cilento.
- Teatro Verdi. The Salerno Theater ("Teatro Verdi") was done in 1872 and is decorated with paintings of Gaetano D'Agostino. The theater was destroyed during the 1980 earthquake and rebuilt in 1994, during the celebrations for the fifty years of "Salerno Capital of Italy".
- Palazzo di Città di Salerno. The "City Hall" was done in 1936 in typical Fascist style. Its main saloon, the "Marmol Saloon" was the meeting room for the first Government of the Kingdom of Italy after the fall of Fascism in 1943.
- Palazzo Genovese. In baroque style of the seventeenth century, was rebuilt by the arquitect Ferdinando Sanfelice.
- Palazzo Pinto. It is situated in the middle of the "Via dei Mercanti" (merchant street) and has the "Pinacoteca Provinciale" (Paintings Museum of the Province).
- Palazzo De Ruggiero. Noble building done in the sixteenth century, situated near the Cathedral.
- Castel Terracena. The "Terracena" Castle was built by Robert Guiscard in 1076–1086 as a Royal Mansion, next to the Eastern walls. Only scarce remains (mainly tower-houses in tuff) can be seen today, as it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1275.
- Palazzo Fruscione. Medieval Palace done in the XII century. It has walls of the Arechi II Royal Mansion.
- Palazzo Copeta. It is situated in the longobard section of the city. It hosted the last lessons of the Schola Medica Salernitana during Napoleon times.
- Palazzo d'Avossa. Noble Palace rebuilt in the seventeenth century by the arquitect Ferdinando Sanfelice. It has frescoes inspired by Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata
- Palazzo Ruggi d'Aragona. Palace done in the XV century near the "Via dei Mercanti" (merchant street).
- Palazzo Morese. Built in the XIV century and later renovated in Baroque style, facing the Cathedral.
- The Salerno Cathedral dominates with the characteristic Bell-Tower the historical downtown Salerno. In the Cripta there it is the tomb of one of the twelve apostles of Cristo, Saint Matthew the Evangelist. The Cathedral is the main tourist attraction of the city.
- Chiesa della SS. Annunziata. The church of the XIV century is located near the northern entrance of medieval Salerno (called "Portacatena"). It has a beautiful tower-bell done by the architect Ferdinando Sanfelice.
- Chiesa di San Gregorio. The church was done in the X century near the "Via dei Mercanti" (merchant street): a document states its existence in 1058. Actually is the home of the "Museo didattico della Scuola Medica Salernitana" (Museum of the Salerno Medical School).
- Chiesa di San Giorgio. The Church of San Giorgio is the most beautiful Baroque church of Salerno. It has paintings of Andrea Sabatini and high-quality frescoes by Francesco and Angelo Solimena (late seventeenth century). It is related to one of the most ancient monasteries of the city, dating back to the early ninth century, in which remains of apse frescoes have been recently brought to light.
- Chiesa di San Pietro in Vinculis. it is located on the "Piazza Portanova" (Square Portanova) and has Renaissance paintings.
- Chiesa di San Benedetto The St. Benedict church was originally part of monastery from 7th-9th centuries, connected to a massive aqueduct whose remains are still visible today. After the Saracen destruction in 884, it was rebuilt by Abbot Angelarius with a nave and two aisles. Remains of an entrance quadriporticus can still be seen.
- Chiesa di Sant'Agostino. The church is renowned for the "Madonna di Costantinopoli" (Virgin of Costantinopole) inside.
- Chiesa di Sant'Apollonia. Important meeting place.
- Chiesa del Santissimo Crocifisso. The church located in the "Via dei Mercanti" (merchant street) has a "Cripta" of the X century.
- Chiesa di San Pietro a Corte. Longobard church of the X century, was part of the Arechi II Royal Mansion with the name "Cappella Palatina".
- Chiesa dell'Annunziatella. The church is located near the old Roman Forum and has a beautiful fountain of the XVI century near the entrance.
Museums and Galleries
- Museo Archeologico Provinciale. The Museum is located inside the old "San Benedetto Monastery" and is internationally renowned for its "Testa di Apollo" (head of Apollo).
- Museo Didattico della Scuola Medica Salernitana. Located inside the longobard church of San Gregorio. The Museum has noteworthy documents from the Schola Medica Salernitana.
- Museo Diocesano di Salerno. It is located near the Salerno Cathedral and has many precious objects of religious art.
- Pinacoteca Provinciale. Located inside the "Palazzo Pinto" in the "Via dei Mercanti" (Merchant street). It has many Renaissance paintings (like those of Andrea Sabatini, who worked in the Cappella Sistina).
- Area archeologica etrusco-sannitica di Fratte. The archeological area (in Fratte) of the etruscans and "Sanniti" is the most southern in Italy and is located in the eastern outskirts of Salerno. It has a huge "necropolis".
Salerno hosted the oldest university
, the Schola Medica Salernitana
, the most important source of medical knowledge in Europe in the early Middle Ages.
The University Institute of Magistero "Giovanni Cuomo", founded in 1944, received, therefore, the distinguished heritage of an ancient tradition. Since 1968, when the University of Salerno became public, enrollment has increased substantially. Today the two campuses of Fisciano and Baronissi take in over 40,000 students attending the wide range of subjects offered by the 10 Faculties: Economics, Pharmaceutics, Law, Engineering, Humanities, Foreign Languages, Political Science, Natural Science, Mathematics and Physics, Education Science and Medicine and Surgery.
In 2007, there were 140,580 people residing in Salerno, located in the province of Salerno, Campania
, of whom 46.7% were male and 53.3% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 19.61 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 21.86 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Salerno residents is 42 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Salerno grew by 2.02 percent, while Italy
as a whole grew by 3.85 percent. The current birth rate of Salerno is 7.77 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.
As of 2006, 98.05% of the population was Italian. The largest immigrant group came from other European countries (particularly from Ukraine and Poland): 1.20%. There are very small numbers of North Africans, Asians, and migrants from the Americas. The population is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.
The economy of Salerno is mainly based on services and tourism, as most of the city's manufacturing base did not survive the economic crisis of the 1970s. The remaining ones are connected to pottery and food production and treatment.
The port of Salerno is one of the most active of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It moves some 7 millions of tons of goods a year, 60% of which is made up by containers.
The Salerno Costa d'Amalfi Airport at Pontecagnano (IATA code QSR), in the souther outskirt of the city, started international passenger traffic in July 2008. There are direct flights to Milan Malpensa (Italy), Catania (Italy), Verona (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Bucharest (Romania) and Munich (Germany).
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