Salerno has a long history. Probably of Etruscan origin. In 194 b.C. it was a Roman colony and was named Salernum. The city was later occupied by Goths, Byzantines, Longobards and Normans. Thanks to the historical changement there is the birth of the Principality of Salerno, governed by the Duke Arechi II, who will have his residence in the magnificent and majestic castle that now has its name and that stands above the hill where the Castrum Salerni was located. Under his rule Salerno grew to great splendour becoming a centre of studies with its famous Medical School: the Schola Medica Salernitana, the most important source of medical knowledge in Europe in the early Middle Ages. In 839 AD it became the capital of an independent Lombard principality. Robert Guiscard, the Norman ruler, conquered Salerno in 1077, making it the capital of his domain. In this period the royal palace (Castel Terracena) and the magnificent cathedral (Duomo di San Matteo) were built and science boosted as the Salerno Medical School reached its maximum splendour. With the Swabians dynasty, at the end of the 12th century, there was a period of economic revival in the city. The Emperor Frederick II's son (King Manfred of Sicily) ordered the construction of a dock that still today bears his name. Then he founded Saint Matthew's Fair, which was the most important market fair in Southern Italy. After the Angevin conquest most of the Salerno province became the territory of the Princes of Sanseverino, powerful feudal lords, who accumulated an enormous political and administrative power, attracting artists and men of letters. In the first decades of the 16th century the last descendant of the Sanseverino princes was in conflict with the Spanish Government, causing the beginning of a long period of decadence for the city, where the kings were focused only on the capital: Naples. Later, in 1694, the city was struck by several catastrophic earthquakes and plagues, which caused many victims. And afterwards a period of Spanish rule which would last until the 18th century, a slow renewal of the city occurred and the construction of many refined houses and churches characterising the main streets of the historical centre. In 1799 Salerno became part of the Parthenopean Republic and saw a period of Napoleonic rule. Joachim Murat decreed the closing of the Salerno Medical School, that had been declining for decades to the level of a theoretical school. After the Unity of Italy a slow urban development continued till the Second World War. In October 1943, the first reunion of the Government of Badoglio (the President of the Council after the fall of Mussolini) took place inside the Palace of the City. The post-war period was difficult for all the Italian cities of the south, but Salerno managed to improve little by little. Today it is an important cultural centre in Campania and Italy and has had a long and eventful history. The city has a rich and varied culture, and it's 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. 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.

Quick Links


Get the latest news, travel tips and inspirations straight to your inbox!

Book your ferry


You might also like

Follow us