One Way to do Salerno

Salerno is a port city southeast of Naples, Italy,  and is often utilised by cruise ships for visits to Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.

Indeed, Salerno is often overshadowed by the more well-known and popular  cruise port of Naples

But Salerno has a wealth of tourist attractions: historical, religious, architectural and of course, sun kissed beaches.

As a tourist destination, Salerno benefits from its close proximity to the stunning and renowned Amalfi coast but this review is going to concentrate on what to do and see within an easy distance of the cruise ship’s berth.

Our visit in November 2019 was a first for us and we had planned to see a number of tourist attractions…

By far the most important, and therefore first on our list, was Castello di Arechi…

That’s it up there on the hill overlooking the city and is probably Salerno’s most famous landmark.

The forbidding Castello di Arechi, an original Byzantine fort built in the 8th century, is dramatically positioned some 300 metres above the city

Our research had indicated that there is a bus service (No 19)  available that departs from near the Tourist Information Office  at Piazza XXIV Maggio.

On our arrival at Salerno we had to overcome one slight problem first. The ship had berthed in a commercial port and we were informed that we were not permitted to walk through the dock. Shuttle buses had been organised however these shuttle buses would not commence service till 9.00 am.

Our plan was to catch a local bus to the Castello di Arechi and get a taxi back into the town to continue with our visit plan. Undeterred we disembarked minutes after 8.15 am and, as luck would have it, there before us was a taxi driver, meet Nino…

A quick negotiation took place and for a total of €40 we had a deal in which he would get us to the castle, wait whilst we explored,  and then deliver us to our next furthest point on the plan map, the Acquedotto Medievale, or Medieval Aquaduct.

Little did we realise at the time what a bonus this was going to be. Apart from the fascinating drive through the tight narrow streets of Salerno, Nino had us at the Castle 10 minutes before it officially opened and we basically had the place to ourselves. Indeed, I was able to take this photograph of the ship’s berth before the shuttle bus service had even started…

In fact we were entering the castle at the same time the shuttle bus would be leaving.

There are two methods of entry  to the castle, either a climb along …

…the steps and pathway up one side of the castle or, for those with mobility issues, there is  lift access just to the right of the car park, signposted…

…which alights…

…on one of the ‘upper’ terraces of the castle…

It’s a good walk up to the entrance…

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…with some glorious views along the way …

Once inside there is a courtyard …

…which houses a cafe and the ticket desk. But here was a very pleasant surprise. We were asked our ages – God, do we look that old? – and on confirming we were both over 65 years, we were given complimentary entry.

The castle itself is characterised by towers connected by a drawbridge, among which is the Bastiglia, and has a central point around which the entire complex revolves…

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Well worth looking at is the Cinque Centeschi, aka the  16th Century Ovens that were the centre piece of the Castle kitchens…

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Today the castle it is the property of the Province of Salerno and in addition to the battlements it also hosts a comprehensive  museum with an interesting array of exhibits…

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Of course the icing on the cake has to be the views…

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Nino had waited the hour for us and we now headed back down into town where he dropped us within metres of Aqueduto medieval…

The medieval aqueduct of Salerno was built in the ninth century to supply water to the monastery of St. Benedict, at the eastern walls of the city…

 

In the heart of Salerno, what a fascinating surviving structure the aqueduct is. It consists of two branches: one coming from the hills to the north, the other one from the high ground to the east of the city; both rejoined along the street to the right of the photograph below..

…to the left here…

…and in most of its glory here…

A number of legends now surround its construction but suffice to say, it remains in remarkable condition and is well worth a visit.

Very conveniently, running almost parallel with the aqueduct is the Via Velia which took us right down onto the waterfront promenade…

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A short distance along the promenade is the Salerno ‘City Eye’…

Irresistible really…

…and very soon we are enjoying the views…

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…and back up to Castello di Arechi

Our ‘City Eye’ ride over we walked further along to promenade as far as Fort La Carnale…

…itself perched on a rock on the waterfront…

Dating back to 1653 it has been completely restored and offers on separate levels  cultural exhibitions, a belvedere and restaurant.

This was as far along the promenade as we would venture for there remained a number of other places we wished to visit. Leaving the promenade almost immediately we headed along the main shopping thoroughfare, Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi…

…until we once again reached Via Velia, and took a quick dogs leg to the right and continued along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele which eventually runs into the Via Merchanti where  we found exactly what we were looking for, the Scuola Medica Salernitana…

The Schola Medica Salernitana was a medieval medical school, the first and most important of its kind. It was founded in the 9th century and rose to prominence in the 10th century, becoming the most important source of medical knowledge in Western Europe at the time…

As a museum it is now open to the general public and charges €3 adult admission

We are now in the heart of ‘old Salerno’ and wandering through the narrow streets is a delightful experience…

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Of course we had a plan but often we just strayed where the atmosphere took us…

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…often noting points of interest from their descriptive plaques…

…like the historical Palazzo D’Avossa…

One particular street leading off Via Merchant is Via Duomo. Taking a right here for under 200 metres will reveal two rather amazing buildings, The Temple of Pomona…

…and the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Angels…

…whose name also includes Saint Mathew and Saint Gregory the Great.

The Temple of Pomona dates from the Roman period, is dedicated to the Pomona goddess – lady of fruits – and is characterised both  inside and out by fifteen Ionic columns joined together by a Gothic lancet arch. It now specialises in exhibitions and events and is not always open to visitors. However, the outside of the temple remains an impressive site.

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Angels …

…has no such restrictions. It is the main church in the city and a major tourist attraction with a grand Romanesque entrance and 12th century bell tower…

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The Cathedral houses a crypt containing the remains of Mathew the Apostle…

 

…It is a magnificent vaulted  hall with a basilica-like plan divided by columns. It was restored in 1606-1608, with marble decorations added in the 18th century.

All of the ceiling frescoes are painted by Belisario Corenzio and depict scenes from the Gospel of Mathew….

A lower section adds to the sheer stunning beauty – an elaborate baroque design considered one of the cultural and architectural treasures of Southern Italy…

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Our Cathedral visit complete we retraced our steps along the Via Duomo to the waterfront. It opens directly onto  Piazza Cavour…

…the centre of a set of gorgeous gardens and the promenade.

A short walk from here will take one to the Salerno communal gardens, or as the guide map says, Villa Comunale di Salerno…

and admire the animal displays…

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A short distance from the communal gardens is the drop off and pick up point for cruise ship shuttle buses – almost directly opposite the Tourist Information Centre.

That concluded our day visit in Salerno which certainly surpassed expectations and gave us a splendid insight into its history, heritage, architecture and a few delightful coffees.

If you have enjoyed this review of the Salerno and would like to be amongst the first to hear of new reviews, including an Emerald Waterways river cruise through Eastern Europe and a new experience on P&O’s latest offering, Iona, plus Solent Richard’s next guides to Port Elizabeth in South Africa  in his ‘One way to do…’ series, why not join over 600 followers by clicking on the ‘Follow’ link on the front page.

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Duplication in part or whole without prior written consent is prohibited by international laws.

 

Disclosure to potential conflict of interest:

It is common throughout the travel industry for travel journalists and many cruise bloggers to be provided with complimentary cruises for the purpose of their reviews.

Solent Richard has no ‘conflict of interest’ as he is not an accredited journalist, he pays for his cruises, and is happy to confirm that all his reviews are his own given without fear or favour.

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