Salerno and its sea


By fortujohnny | Italian Places | 9 Mar 2021

Hello readers, today I would like to continue the tour to discover the most significant places in my land, Campania. The protagonist of this article is Salerno, the second most important city in the Campania region, after Naples. Its history begins with the creation, in the 6th century BC, of an Etruscan settlement on the banks of the river Irno, which bathes the city. In the fifth century, however, the Etruscans withdrew from the city and so the village was occupied by another important people who inhabited the peninsula at that time, the Samnites who abandoned the settlement around 280 BC.

Falling into the orbit of the Roman Republic in the following century, the city will follow the fate of the Eternal City until the fall of the Empire in the 5th century AD.

In the Middle Ages the city experienced its moment of maximum splendor, thanks to the Lombards of Benevento who moved the court here in 773, by Arechis II. In 839 Salerno and its Principality became completely independent from the Duchy of Benevento and from that moment the Principality extended its domains to a large part of Southern Italy. Meeting point between different cultures, Latin, Arab and Greek, still quite strong in southern Italy, due to the presence of territories belonging to the Eastern Roman Empire, the city had, always starting from the reign of Arechis II, a renaissance from a cultural point of view, so much so that the first school for the teaching of Medicine in the whole West was founded there, the "Schola Medica Salernitana". Legend has it that it was established thanks to the commitment of four masters belonging to the main cultures of the Mediterranean: an Arab, a Jew, a Latin and a Greek. This school has enjoyed great prestige for centuries and its impact on the history of the city has been so decisive that the city of Salerno still has the title of “Hippocratica Civitas” on its coat of arms.

The Lombard dominion over the city ended in the 11th century when the Normans of Robert of Hauteville known as "Guiscardo" or "the Cunning", which we have mentioned in this article, occupied Salerno and dethroned Prince Gisulf II, among other things, his brother-in-law. After the Norman conquest, the city became the capital of the County of Apulia and Calabria, whose domains extended for most of the southern mainland of Italy.

                                                                  4c352992e6162d9ed1857fc8b147111c02549be527173ce7af84169264948ee5.jpgSalerno capital of the Norman "County of Apulia and Calabria" in 1100

After the formation of the Kingdom of Sicily by King Roger II of Sicily, Salerno lost its importance over time, in favor of other cities of the kingdom such as Palermo or Naples. Over the centuries, the city government passed now to one family, now to another, including the Sanseverinos we mentioned in the first blog article. The city had lost so much importance that in the eighteenth century it had only a few thousand inhabitants. At the end of this century the city joined the Neapolitan Republic, a state body that took up and made its own the principles of the French Revolution.
In the nineteenth century Salerno saw the birth, under the government of the Bourbon dynasty, the first manufacturing industries and this impressive development continued even after the expedition of Garibaldi's Thousand and the reunification of the Peninsula, so much so that in 1877 the province of Salerno was the third Italian province for per capita added value and was called the “Manchester of the Two Sicilies”.
However, the unification of Italy represented a kind of tsunami for the economy of the city and its surroundings, a few decades later many factories failed, helping to increase the mass of poor and unemployed who preferred to emigrate to Europe or the New World in search of a new life and a personal redemption.
In 900 Salerno is remembered for having become, for a short period during the Second World War, the capital of Italy until the liberation of Rome in 1944.

Due to its long history, the city of Salerno has many architectural testimonies, a sign of the contribution of the Lords who have dominated it over the centuries. First of all, how not to mention the Cathedral of Salerno, commissioned in the 11th century by Robert "the Cunning" and by Bishop Alfano I, who takes as models of comparison the abbey of Montecassino and the old basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, in Rome. Noteworthy is the bell tower, in Arab-Norman style, 52 meters high. The peculiarity of the Cathedral is that inside are preserved the mortal remains of the Apostle Matthew, protector of the city and the object of a very participatory cult by the Salernitans.

                                                                                              388dbb641ad1b228ff4abcea8eae5e315cdc3b632e46e83fc921cb608697aba7.jpgSalerno cathedral with four-sided portico and bell tower

Absolutely to visit is the "Archaeological Complex of San Pietro a Corte" which contains evidence ranging from the Roman baths to the early Christian cemetery, up to the palace of Prince Arechis II, one of the few examples of Lombard palatial architecture present today in Italy.

0b692339516eb7c6c36fa76efc940e9afa97c7386f44f4fc2658e6666388c0f4.jpgHypogeum of the church of San Pietro a Corte

How can we forget the towering Castle of Arechis, a fortress, among other things never conquered in the various sieges suffered, built in Roman or Byzantine times and then strengthened by the prince whose name it bears. Renovated several times, it is still the center of cultural events, exclusive evenings and parties capable of entertaining the tourist who wants to appreciate the true soul of the city in the best possible way.
Another place to visit undoubtedly because it is a meeting place for young people in the city and for the cultural events that are held there is the so-called "Forte la Carnale", a military construction built in the 16th century, a typical construction of southern Italy because it served as a watchtower against enemy raids from the sea.

3ee5232a64c4d7d9545097f1917bd08f4691051efcd12e9105f3d44a22603b92.jpgCastello di Arechi, you can see the port of Salerno and the Amalfi Coast

There would be many other things to say about Salerno, such as the presence of the Verdi Theater, one of the most important cultural centers in Italy for opera, or the Medieval Aqueduct, called by the Salernitans "the Devil's Bridge", or its wonderful waterfront that stretches for kilometers and a fundamental meeting point for citizens, the wonderful climate, the food, the natural beauties, including the Amalfi Coast which can be perfectly observed because it is only a few kilometers away.
My invitation is to visit it, it will leave you amazed by the presence of many small jewels, in even unthinkable places. See you next time my dear readers.


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Italian Places
Italian Places

In this blog I will tell you about places, history, food and anecdote of my country, Italy.

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