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Top Things to Do in Salerno, Italy

Salerno harbours a host of fantastic things to see and do
Salerno harbours a host of fantastic things to see and do | © Stefano Politi Markovina / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kim Gregory
15 October 2021
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With neighbours including Naples and Sorrento, Salerno is often overlooked – but it shouldn’t be. This lively coastal city brims with historic beauty, from its atmospheric old town to its palm-lined promenade. Marvel at botanic Minerva Gardens, the art-packed Salerno Cathedral, and the treasure-filled Archaeological Museum. With excellent transport links, all this and many popular destinations across the bay are in reach.

See Salerno and much more – from Naples to the Amalfi Coast, Matera and beyond – on Culture Trip’s bespoke 10-day southern Italy adventure, led by our Local Insider.

Salerno Cathedral

Cathedral
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Amalfi Cathedral, Duomo di Amalfi, Cathedral Square, Piazza del Duomo, Amalfi town, province of Salerno, Amalfi Coast, Gulf of Salerno, Campania,
© "agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo"
The white facade of this sacred 11th-century cathedral hides a trove of colourful artwork. Walk the tiled floors and gaze up in wonder at the pillars, archways and ceilings adorned with spectacular religious imagery and mosaic, and don’t miss the ornate 12th-century bell tower. The cathedral (or duomo) is dedicated to the city’s patron saint, the apostle Matthew. It’s said that the crypt houses his remains, as well as the tomb of Pope Gregory VII.

Trieste Lungomare

Architectural Landmark
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Ferris wheel at Salerno promenade (lungomare Trieste) during  Christmas season. Salerno, Campania, Italy, December 2019
© Francesco Bonino / Alamy Stock Photo
Get your heart rate up with a brisk walk along Salerno’s seaside promenade, stretching 1km (0.6mi). Stop at piazzas along the way to people-watch by monuments and trickling fountains, or visit promenade-side ice cream bars to enjoy a scoop of refreshing gelato on a tree-shaded bench. Enjoy views of the Gulf of Salerno and the mountainous horizon.

Provincial Archaeological Museum

Museum
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Head to the historic Rione Duomo district and you’ll find the Provincial Archaeological Museum, established in 1928. Formerly part of a Medieval abbey, the museum now bursts with artefacts found throughout the Salerno province, including Roman remains and a renowned bronze head of Apollo. You’ll find the detailed information interesting, with plenty to engage young and old over a fun afternoon.

Centro Storico

Architectural Landmark
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Salerno, Italy 25/06/2021: Historical centre© Andrea Sabbadini
© andrea sabbadini / Alamy Stock Photo
The winding, cobbled streets of Salerno’s historic centre are some of the best-preserved in Italy. Under colourful, balcony-clad buildings, you’ll find shops, espresso spots, traditional trattorie and pizzerias, while squares like Largo Campo grow more atmospheric as the night proceeds. The centre is home to many museums and galleries – expect exciting discoveries as well as impressive architecture.

Minerva Gardens

Park
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Panoramic view from the Minerva's Garden in Salerno, Campania, Italy.
© Stefano Valeri / Alamy Stock Photo
Find peace in this picturesque public park within the bustling old town. It’s on the site of the 11th-century Salerno School of Medicine, thought to be the first such establishment in Europe. Soak up scientific history as you stroll through the terrace to view the impressive flora of today’s botanic gardens. There are over 200 species – enough to impress any gardening buff.

Chiesa di San Giorgio

Church
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Discover this baroque church, near the duomo, that houses a kaleidoscope of incredible artwork. Beautifully detailed frescoes and canvas paintings adorn nearly every surface, from golden archways to the dazzling dome. The San Giorgio complex – some of it developed by famous Neapolitan architect Ferdinando Sanfelice – is one of the city’s oldest monastic settlements, dating to the 9th century.

Castello di Arechi

Historical Landmark
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Castel d'Arechi, Salerno, Amalfi Coast, Campania, Italy
© Roy Johnson / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’re looking for a panoramic view of the stunning Gulf of Salerno, climb 300m (984ft) to this hilltop castle. Though it’s been partly restored, much of the original structure remains. Once a powerful regional defence, the castle – named after Duke of Benevento, Arechi II – has an interesting history. Learn about it at the on-site museum before following nature trails on the luscious surrounding landscape.

Gulf of Salerno

Natural Feature
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The Gulf of Salerno is one of the finest and most celebrated stretches of Italian coastline, encompassing the postcard towns of Amalfi and Positano, where colourful houses creep up dramatic hillsides. Salerno city is an authentic, affordable base for exploring the gulf with regular ferries sailing from the port to Amalfi in 30 minutes. The area’s spectacular Tyrrhenian Sea view is jaw-dropping.

The best local restaurants

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Like any great city, Salerno only gets better when you try the food. Expect shining examples of home-cooked Italian dishes. Try fresh seafood pasta at renowned Cicirinella; spectacular steaks at Porca Vacca that are worth the walk from town; Vicolo della Neve’s traditional plates of parmigiana (an aubergine, cheese and tomato layer bake); and perfect pizzas in fried, Neapolitan style at Pizzeria La Smorfia. Wash it all down with local wine.

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