Self-guided Walking Tour of Salerno (Map & Route!)

Self Guided Walking Tour Of Salerno
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

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Salerno, a picturesque gem nestled in Italy’s Campania region, effortlessly combines historical splendor with coastal allure. Serving as the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, this enchanting city beckons travelers with its rich history, lively streets, and panoramic vistas of the Tyrrhenian Sea. This Salerno City Tour is an ideal introduction to this captivating destination and offers a comprehensive glimpse into the city’s storied past and vibrant culture. Wander through bustling thoroughfares, visit iconic landmarks, and meander through the labyrinthine alleys of the old town, each imbued with tales of Salerno’s medieval legacy.

Top Tip: If you are visiting Salerno for just a day and want to make the most of your visit, you may want to consider taking a walking tour with a local guide. This is one of the most complete and best-rated tours of Salerno that covers the main, must-see attractions in about 2 hours.

How to get to Salerno

By Car: There is free parking at the castle, althoug it is a bit of a hike to the city. Parking at the port in Parking Via Ligea is about 30 mins from the Piazza della Libertà, but only costs €2 for 5 hours.

By Train: Salerno boasts excellent train connectivity, rendering it a convenient choice for travelers. The train ride from Naples to Salerno typically lasts around 40 minutes. Salerno Centrale serves as the primary train station in the city.

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Piazza della Libertà

Stazione Marittima Di Salerno
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Jack45

Start at Piazza della Libertà.

Freedom Square, a recent addition to Salerno’s landscape, bears the signature touch of acclaimed architect Ricardo Bofill. Expansive in size, spanning approximately 28,000 square meters and situated about 5 meters above sea level, the square boasts a sizable underground parking facility. Its design embodies a dual purpose: to provide a gateway from the city to the sea while seamlessly connecting with a scenic pathway along the Trieste seafront leading to the city’s main port, the Manfredi pier, and the maritime station. Positioned strategically, the square facilitates convenient access for tourists disembarking from cruise ships to various key attractions in Salerno, including the Verdi Theatre, Villa Comunale, City Palace, and the historic center.

The square’s defining feature is its “ice cream cone” structure, encircled by a semicircular building known as the Crescent, adorned with a charming portico. Two sides of the Crescent, designated as “sea-facing,” offer captivating views of this integral element in the city’s history. Below, near sea level, two splendid promenades have been crafted, one leading towards the historic Santa Teresa beach and the other towards the port. These avenues are lined with spaces set to be occupied by leisure establishments such as pubs, restaurants, and bars, adding to the square’s vibrancy and allure.

Location: Piazza della Libertà, Piazza della Libertà, Salerno, SA, Italy
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Villa Comunale

Villa Comunale Salerno
Public Domain / Lucus

Walk with the sea on your right. Turn left after you enter the park and you shuld see the park across the road from you.

The Villa Comunale of Salerno stands as one of the city’s earliest and most cherished green spaces. Its inception dates back to 1874, occupying a prime location between the sea and the road leading to the Amalfi Coast or Naples. A notable feature of the villa is the incorporation of the ancient Asclepius fountain, dating back to 1790 AD, which once provided refreshment to weary travelers. Majestic trees dot the landscape, offering welcome respite from the summer heat and creating a serene environment for relaxation.

The villa serves as a venue for various significant events throughout the year. From November to January, it transforms into an enchanted garden, where luminous artworks inspired by fairy tales adorn every corner, creating a magical atmosphere. Another highlight is the Minerva exhibition, which welcomes horticultural professionals from across Italy. This event provides a unique opportunity for visitors to receive expert botanical advice, participate in educational workshops on plant cultivation and their culinary and therapeutic uses, learn about extracting colors from plants for decorations, and discover and purchase rare and lesser-known plant varieties.

Location: Villa Comunale di Salerno, Via Roma, Salerno, SA, Italy
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Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata

Chiesa Annunziata Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack56

Walk throgh the park and head for the dome of Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata. You need to walk to the far side to reach the entrance.

Constructed in 1627 upon the remnants of a fifteenth-century church ravaged by a flood, this church underwent significant renovations in the eighteenth century. Renowned architect Ferdinando Sanfelice spearheaded these enhancements, including the design of the distinctive bell tower featuring a clock, in the quintessential Salerno baroque style. Situated in the vicinity of the former Porta Catena, the church has become a landmark place of worship for the residents of the historic center, particularly those residing near the town hall. Its magnificent and vibrantly colored dome adds a captivating splash of hue to the city’s skyline, contributing to the visual allure of the landscape.

Location: Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata, Via Portacatena, Salerno, SA, Italy | Website
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Giardino della Minerva

Giardino Della Minerva Salerno
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Miguel Hermoso Cuesta

From the entrance to the charch, turn right and first left through the tunnel under the buildings. Turn right, then left, following a brown sign for Giardino della Minerva. The brown sign now takes you up through a another block of apartments, then up steps. After reaching the lane, Via Torquato Tasso, walk across and continue up the steps. Entrance to the Giardino della Minerva are on your left.

The Minerva Garden, situated in the upper reaches of Salerno’s historic center, holds significant historical importance. Dating back to the Middle Ages, it served as a pioneering educational laboratory for students of the Salerno medical school. Here, simple herbs were cultivated to create medicinal compounds based on proportions outlined in various medical treatises, making it likely the first botanical garden in Europe.

Originally belonging to the esteemed Silvatico family, it was around the 1300s that Matteo Silvatico, a distinguished master of the Salerno medical school, utilized the garden to cultivate medicinal plants from diverse regions and study their therapeutic properties. This scholarly pursuit culminated in the publication of the Opus Pandectarum Medicinae in 1317.

Today, the garden continues its legacy through educational initiatives and conferences. Inside, a herbal tea shop managed by the association overseeing the municipal complex promotes the appreciation and utilization of herbal aromas. Visitors can enjoy tasting herbal teas amidst the picturesque setting of the terrace, offering panoramic views of the city.

Location: Giardino della Minerva, Vicolo Ferrante Sanseverino, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm | Price: €3 | Website
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Castello di Arechi

Salerno-Arechi Castle
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Pan Camel

Ok, it is a little bit of a uphill trek to the castle, if you dont fancy it, walk up the steps to the next road, Largo Giovanni Luciani and walk along it until you reach Torquato Tasso. Complesso Monumentale di Santa Sofia is on your right.
if you want to put those steps in, continue up the steps, when you reach Via Salvatore de Renzi turn right, and first left until you find some more steps. Continue up and cross over Via Fra’ Generoso. After this it is eas to follow the path up to the castle.

The city of Salerno traces its origins back to its role as a Roman sentinel against the Lucanian people, with some historians suggesting that its castle has its roots in a Roman castrum, as indicated in ancient texts.

Archaeological investigations reveal the earliest traces of structures dating back to the Byzantine period. However, it was during the Lombard era under Prince Arechi in the 8th century that the castle of Arechi assumed its pivotal role as a stronghold for the city’s defense. Throughout the subsequent centuries, from the Normans to the Aragonese, the castle dutifully fulfilled its defensive duties until it was eventually abandoned in the 19th century.

Visible atop Mount Bonadies at an elevation of 300 meters above sea level, the formidable castle stands as an iconic symbol of Salerno. Its commanding terrace offers panoramic views of the city, while a nearby watchtower known as the “bastilla” provided sentries with comprehensive oversight of the surrounding area.

Extensive restoration efforts in the 1970s and 1980s rendered many chambers of the fortress accessible, resulting in the creation of spaces for a small museum housing artifacts unearthed from the ruins and surrounding vicinity. These artifacts offer insights into the daily lives of the garrisons who safeguarded the city’s security from the early Middle Ages through the Aragonese period.

Today, the castle serves as an exclusive venue for meetings and conferences, boasting a 100-seat room and a refreshment area. An adjacent forest provides a serene environment for leisurely strolls, enhancing the allure of this historic landmark.

| Hours: Daily 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. On Sundays, the ticket office closes at 3.30 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
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Complesso Monumentale di Santa Sofia

Salerno - Complesso Di Santa Sofia
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Luca Aless

The Complex of the Church of Addolorata and the Monastery of Santa Sofia boasts a rich and ancient history. The monastery, dating back to the 9th century, bears Lombard origins, evident in its name, referencing the Church of Benevento and the imperial church of Constantinople, both dedicated to the Saint of Knowledge.

In the 16th century, the arrival of the Jesuits in Salerno led to significant transformations. They inhabited the monastery, shaping the church into its present form. The striking staircase leading to the church exemplifies the theatrical intentions characteristic of the Counter-Reformation and the Jesuits’ dedication to sacred representation. The surrounding square, believed by some to be the ancient Roman Forum and undoubtedly the starting point of the road leading to Nocera, adds to the site’s picturesque allure.

Today, the church serves as a venue for cultural events and exhibitions. Its interior is adorned with wall paintings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, adding to its historical and artistic significance.

Originally a male monastery, it later became female under the jurisdiction of the Benedictine Abbey of Cava. The current structure, overlooking Largo Abate Conforti, consists of two interconnected buildings with a garden passage.

On the façade facing via Trotula de Ruggiero, a notable architectural feature emerges: a four-light window with intertwined arches, believed to date back to the 13th century, further enriching the complex’s historical legacy.

Location: Complesso Monumentale di Santa Sofia, Largo Abate Conforti, Salerno, SA, Italy
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Duomo di Salerno

Cattedrale Di Salerno
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

From Complesso Monumentale di Santa Sofia walk along Via Torquato Tasso, taking the road on the right sloping down. The Duomo is around the corner.

The cathedral, a testament to the fervent desires of Robert Guiscard, was consecrated by Pope Gregory VII himself, who sought refuge in Salerno to evade Emperor Henry IV.

Access to the Salerno Cathedral is granted through a staircase leading to a door flanked by sculptures of a lion and a lioness. The atrium boasts a distinctive portico adorned with 28 stripped columns salvaged from ancient Roman edifices. Norman and Arab motifs grace the decorations and structures, while Roman-era sarcophagi line the walls. Dominating the scene is the 12th-century bell tower.

Entrance into the sanctuary itself is via a bronze door crafted in Byzantium. The cathedral houses a wealth of artistic treasures, including the funerary monument of Queen Margherita of Durazzo, 12th-century ambos, mosaics adorning the lateral apses, the tomb of Pope Gregory VII, and 18th-century paintings by Francesco Solimena and Francesco De Mura.

The focal point of the cathedral lies in its crypt, where the relics of Saint Matthew and the holy martyrs of Salerno were enshrined in 1081. At the heart of the crypt rests the tomb containing the relics of Saint Matthew, strategically positioned to underscore the apostle’s centrality within the sacred space, serving as a poignant reminder for all visitors.

Location: Duomo di Salerno - Cattedrale di Santa Maria degli Angeli, San Matteo e San Gregorio VII, Piazza Alfano I, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: Daily from 9.30 am to 18.30 pm | Price: €10 For Cathedram, Museum and San Giorgio, €7 for two, €5 for museaum only | Website
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Museo Diocesano San Matteo di Salerno

Museo Diocesano Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack56

Walk along the north side of the Duomo and follow the brown signs to get to the Museo Diocesano.

The Diocesan Museum boasts a remarkable collection, with the highlight being the cycle of ivories dating back to the 11th-12th century. These intricately carved ivory tablets depict scenes from the Sacred Books and are prominently displayed in the first room.

Moving into the second room, visitors encounter medieval works from the Cathedral and other Salerno churches. Among the treasures is the precious 11th-century cross, steeped in legend as it is said to have protected Robert Guiscard in battle. Additionally, eleven illuminated parchment sheets from the 13th century, dedicated entirely to the Exultet prayer, add to the room’s allure.

The subsequent room, spanning from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, houses works created between the 14th and 16th centuries, while another room dedicated to the Renaissance showcases pieces by esteemed artists such as Andrea Sabatini.

The seventeenth-century room offers a captivating display of “Neapolitan” painting, characterized by naturalistic subjects and the typical baroque aesthetic. Equally noteworthy are the corridors, where stone artifacts dating from the 1st century BC to the 17th century AD are showcased, alongside a rich collection of coins from Magna Graecia, the Republic of Rome, the Roman Empire, and the Mint of Salerno.

Of significant cultural importance to Salerno is the medieval wooden crucifix preserved within the museum. Legend surrounds this crucifix, intertwined with the tale of the magician and alchemist Barliario, who, after repenting for the death of his nephews in his laboratory, received confirmation of forgiveness from Christ himself after three days and nights of penance before this very crucifix.

Location: Museo Diocesano San Matteo, Largo Plebiscito, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: Daily from 9.30 am to 18.30 pm | Price: €10 For Cathedram, Museum and San Giorgio, €7 for two, €5 for museaum only |
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Acquedotto Medievale di Salerno

Acquedotto Medievale Di Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / M2m

Walk up Piazza Porta Rotese and first right along Via Arce to get to the Acquedotto Medievale.

The medieval aqueduct, a marvel constructed by the Lombards in the 7th-8th century, comprises two branches extending in perpendicular directions: one north-south and the other east-west. Its imposing presence can be observed from vantage points along Via Arce, Via Gonzaga, Via Velia, and Via Fieravecchia.

Dubbed the “Devil’s Bridge” by the locals, this aqueduct is steeped in legend. According to popular lore, it was miraculously erected in a single night by the Salerno magician Pietro Barliario, aided by malevolent demons. Additionally, tales circulated that traversing beneath the arches between dusk and dawn would invite encounters with sinister spirits and infernal beings.

Location: Acquedotto medievale di Salerno, Via Fiera Vecchia, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free
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Museo Archeologico Provinciale of Salerno 

Museo Archeologico Provinciale Of Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack56

Walk down Via Velia and right along Via S. Benedetto. At the fork bear right. The Provincial Archaeological Museum of Salerno will be on your left.

The Provincial Archaeological Museum of Salerno offers an enriching journey through the region’s ancient history, housed within the captivating spaces of the former monastery of San Benedetto. Established in 1927, this museum has undergone several relocations before finding its permanent home in the heart of Salerno, just steps away from Via dei Mercanti.

Initially situated in the Government Palace, the museum moved to the Casina dell’Orto agrario in 1939 due to the outbreak of World War II, only to return to its original location until 1964. It was then that the visionary director Venturino Panebianco selected the medieval complex of San Benedetto as its definitive residence. Designed by the architect Ezio de Felice, the layout of this two-storey museum is still revered for its innovative design and reverence for the historic setting.

In 2013, the provincial administration undertook an expansion and modernization of the exhibition itinerary, revitalizing the museum’s offerings and fostering educational programs, exhibitions, and cultural events.

The museum’s collection is a treasure trove of artifacts spanning from Prehistory to the Late Roman Imperial Age, sourced from Salerno and major archaeological sites across the province. Visitors can marvel at a diverse array of items, including animal remains, household items, weaponry, jewelry, statues, and architectural fragments. Highlights along the exhibition route include everyday objects, ceremonial offerings, exquisite decorative vases, and the iconic head of Apollo, which has become synonymous with the Provincial Museums of Salerno.

Location: Museo Archeologico Provinciale di Salerno, Via San Benedetto, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 to 19.00. | Website
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Chiesa di San Giorgio

Chiesa E Monastero Di San Giorgio
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Jack45

Continue on Via S. Benedetto, and at the end turn left onto Via Antonio Genovese and at the end of that turn right onto Via Mercanti (Merchants’ Street).

Via Mercanti in Salerno has been a vital artery in the historic core of the city, serving as its primary hub for trade and interaction since the medieval period. With origins dating back to the 11th century, this thoroughfare was initially known as Drapparia, reflecting its association with the flourishing fabric trade that characterized the Lombard principality of Salerno. This medieval street maintains an average width of around 5 meters, occasionally narrowing to just three meters in some sections. Stretching for approximately one kilometer, it links the renowned Arch of Arechi, a vestige of the Lombard palace bearing the same name, to the lively Portanova Square, which marks the gateway to modern Salerno. Throughout its history, spanning from Lombard times onwards, the Merchants’ Street has retained its significance as the focal point of the city’s commercial and mercantile endeavors.

Turn left inot Via Duomo and Chiesa e Monastero di San Giorgio is on your right.

The church of San Giorgio stands as a treasure trove of Salerno’s sacred art. Originating in the 9th century, it was originally affiliated with the monastery of the Benedictine nuns, undergoing significant renovation in the 18th century.

Adorning its walls are a plethora of valuable artworks, including depictions of the life of San Benedetto by Solimena, the renowned painter responsible for the masterpiece known as the “Salerno Paradise.” Additionally, frescoes portraying the lives of saints such as Thecla, Susanna, and Archelaa are attributed to Solimena’s son, Francesco, who achieved greater fame than his predecessor.

Within this hallowed space, visitors can also admire two paintings by the esteemed artist Andrea Sabatini, further enriching the church’s cultural heritage.

Location: Chiesa e Monastero di San Giorgio, Via Duomo, Salerno, SA, Italy | Price: €10 For Cathedram, Museum and San Giorgio, €7 for two, €5 for museaum only
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Palazzo Fruscione & Complesso di San Pietro a Corte

Complesso Monumentale Di San Pietro A Corte
Public Domain / Jack56

Head back to Via Mercanti and turn left. Turn right onto Via dei Canali and right again.

The construction of Fruscione Palace, which commenced in the 13th century, weaves a rich historical narrative deeply entwined with the city’s past. Built partly upon the remnants of an imperial-era thermal complex, the palace stands in close proximity to the ancient Arechian court, adding to its historical significance.

The palace itself embodies traces of a Norman structure spanning multiple floors, showcasing varying building levels. Renovation efforts in the 13th century, accompanied by street reorganization, are evident through the presence of three portals on Vicolo dei Barbuti. Rooms along Vicolo Adelberga began to take shape towards the latter part of the 13th century, while the second floor underwent comprehensive intervention in the early 14th century.

During the 17th century, the ground floor underwent a transformation into stables, leading to the unfortunate loss of the ancient peacock-tail staircase that once led to the upper levels. In the 19th century, restoration endeavors aimed to revive the splendor of these spaces, with embellishments such as two marble jambs adorned with intricate vegetal motifs.

Palazzo Fruscione proudly showcases three orders adorned with notable architectural features. The eastern façade boasts three portals on the ground floor crowned by round arches featuring gray and yellow tuff inlays. The first floor is distinguished by five sculpted mullioned windows, one of which displays a red-painted decoration depicting intertwined rings. The second floor exhibits a series of intertwined multi-lancet windows characterized by pointed arches and supported by small columns, further enhancing the palace’s architectural grandeur.

Location: Complesso Monumentale di San Pietro a Corte - Ipogeo e Cappella Palatina, Larghetto San Pietro a Corte, Salerno, SA, Italy | Price: Free entry
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Lungomare di Salerno

Lungomare Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack45

Walk back along Via dei Canali and continue until the sea!

The Trieste seafront in Salerno stands as a historic and beloved waterfront in the western part of the city, renowned as one of the most popular gathering spots for locals. Spanning over 2 kilometers, it stretches from the Santa Teresa beach, situated opposite the historic center, to the tourist port.

Comprising three lanes, the seafront offers a bustling promenade along the waterfront, with the lane closest to the sea being the most frequented. From the benches along this lane, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of the gulf. Additionally, there is a dedicated cycle path along the outer lane, providing a scenic route for cyclists and pedestrians alike to enjoy.

Location: Lungomare di Salerno, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free
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