Salerno trip planner

Dull city and southern gateway to the Amalfi Coast

Salerno—shipping port, anchor of the Amalfi Coast's eastern end, and gateway to southern Campania—ain't much to look at.

It serves visitors mainly as a stopping point between connections with the Amalfi coast, Naples, and the Greek temples at Paestum (though its western suburb of Vietri sul Mare is a major center for traditional hand-painted ceramics).

If you find yourself with more than 45 minutes to kill in town, here's the scoop.

The sights of Salerno

Making the connection
If you're just here in order to move on, know this: If arriving from the Amalfi Coast, stay on the bus until its end of the line, a block down and a few blocks over from the train station.
When the Fascists moved the Italian government to this strategic port briefly during World War II, allied forces took the opportunity to bomb medieval Salerno to smithereens.

Luckily, the Duomo's lovely 11th-century courtyard was spared (the antique columns of the interior were pilfered from Paestum, and there's a pair of inlaid ambones like those at Ravello; the cathedral crypt houses the bones of St. Matthew the Evangelist), as was a stretch of the 8th-century aqueduct where Via Velia meets Via Arce.

As for the rest of the city, it consists today mainly of modern buildings, a wide and rather pleasant but sunburnt palm-shaded park running the length of the harbor, and a busy container port overseen by dramatically soaring highway overpasses and the broken remains of a craggy old fort atop the hill.

And in a twist of irony, the American capitalism that has steadily rolled across Italy since that devastating war ended has installed a McDonald's in the remains of a 12th-century monastery (Via Mercanti 7; visible inside: a brick arch on the second floor—just one, not golden), making it one of the oldest Mickey-D's in the world.

Salerno is 59 km (35 miles) southeast of Naples on the highway, 25km (16 miles) from Amalfi.

A great restaurant in Salerno

Vicolo della Neve
Bunches of garlic have hung from the rafters of this restaurant for as long as any Salernitano can remember. The swirling fans moving air between the brick arch–separated rooms may be new, but the cuisine is staunchly traditional.

Service is conducted with lighting efficiency, and there are no pastas (well, save pasta e fagioli). In the place of primi is a selection of excellent vegetable dishes such as pepperoni farcite (bell peppers stuffed with olives, bread, capers, parsley, and garlic) or ciambotta (a casserole of eggplant, peppers, and potatoes).

However, it should be easy—or should I say hard—to choose since you are invited to peruse the offerings laid out on glass shelves and in cupboards, which include a few meaty offerings such as polpette (meatballs) and involtini (veal roll-ups).

The sublime pizze and calzone come bubbling hot to your table within minutes.

Vicolo della Neve 24 (off Via dei Mercanti a long block west of Via del Duomo). tel. 089-225-705. Closed Wed.

» Hotels in Salerno

Tips & links


Tourist info:
Piazza Amendola 8
tel. +39-089-224-744

Provincial info office:
Via Velia 15
tel. 089-224-322

Tourist information

Local tourist offices: (regional)

Useful private sites: (cooking classes, hiking paths, recipes, boat rentals) (photos, videos, hiking maps) (news)

State railways:
Naples area rail line:

Amalfi Coast tours
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Tourist info:
Piazza Amendola 8
tel. +39-089-224-744

Provincial info office:
Via Velia 15
tel. 089-224-322

Useful links
Train tix

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