Salerno is the principal town of the province with the same name, and today numbers around 145,000 inhabitants. For a brief period (February to August 1944) Salerno was the capital city of Italy, during the liberation after the allied landings before the fall of Monte Cassino to the allies and the subsequent liberation of Rome.
Today it is a lively port town, that is rapidly re-acquiring a relaxing and open Mediterranean atmosphere. The port area itself is not particularly attractive, but once you get onto the promenade things get better. Worth a visit also is the Historical Old Town, which has in recent years recovered from being a virtual no-go area to being one of the best preserved historical town centers, full of tiny little passageways and hidden corners.
Salerno was the birthplace of the "Schola Medica Salernitana" in the ninth century, which was the most important source of medical information in Europe at the time, and provided an important impulse to medical learning in Europe.
Salerno is an ideal stopping off point on the way to Paestum, Pompeii or Positano, or the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, which is a lesser known UNESCO World Heritage site. Placed as it is at one end of the Amalfi Coastline, it is an important passing point for the local tourism scene.
Also worth a visit if you happen to be in the area are Vietri sul Mare, for the traditional ceramics, Cava de' Tirreni for the important Abbey at La Badia and one of the few remaining Portici in Campania.
From the airport you can take a bus for €3 (called Alibus) to Stazione Centrale in Naples (get off here for connections to Salerno via train). It also stops on Piazza Municipio near the ferry port, from which you can take a 5-minute walk to catch the Bus (SITA). The route is not obvious, so see the section below.
You can buy your ticket on the Alibus, and you can get to it by walking right out of the airport terminal to the bus stop which is less than 20 metres from the airport terminal exit.
From Naples Airport there is a SITA bus running directly to Salerno (Euros 7). This bus runs only 4 times a day, and not on Sunday. You have to walk some 300 meters to reach the bus-
Salerno is a stop for high speed trains operated by both Trenitalia and Italo, giving a convenient connection to most major Italian cities.
From Naples, you can also reach Salerno on Regional trains from Napoli Centrale which take about 50 minutes, or on some Metropolitan trains making several stops in Naples including Piazza Garibaldi (80 minutes from Salerno). For both of these, you can use a Unico Campania U-5 ticket, which you can buy for €4.10 from various stores and kiosks around the station. The 3T 3-day tourist transit pass also includes these trains.
BY rental car
Theoretically, you can rent a car to cover the last stretch of the journey, but in all honesty it's probably better to reserve this option for second (or third) visits to the area if you are used to driving in Northern Europe or the US. The reason for this is that driving habits in this area of Italy have developed in a sort of local micro climate - most cars drift around on the motorway hovering between two or three lanes, most drivers talk and gesticulate instead of driving, and if you don't keep up with the traffic flow, you are likely to find someone tailgating you within 30 seconds or so.
If you need any more convincing, take a look at the cars when you arrive in the area. There is a prize if you can spot one without dents. Dents and rental cars don't mix well.
Be aware that you have to cross the road here, and that traffic in Naples follows unwritten rules that are not accessible to foreigners (or even some Italians). Red traffic lights don't always stop the traffic (the locals know the 'important' traffic lights, and will stop at these). Mopeds regularly leave the road and drive on any other surface they can find. Follow the locals, and you should be OK.
You should ask the way to the "SITA" (the name of the bus company that provides the service). If you stand where the bus stops, and face the sea (with the tall castle to your right), you will need to cross the main road and head towards the left. After about 400 meters or so, you will see a small congregation of buses to your right. Check the destination written on the bus, or you can ask for "Salerno".
The service is quite rapid for the first part of the journey, but then will leave the motorway and take a more tortuous route. The journey should take an hour so so. The ticket should cost between €3 and €4 per person.
For further journeys there is a regional ticket that allows you to travel with the bus (timed limit) or train (one journey): see Campania Unico.
From the Amalfi coast
You can catch a bus from the amalfi coast to Salerno, which runs along the winding roads of the coastline. The drivers are very experienced and swing effortlessly round the curves (they don't have special powers to see round corners, if you look closely, there are mirrors at strategic points). In the height of summer expect long delays, as tourist cars and buses tend to get overwhelmed by the road, and vice versa. Much better to go by boat. (See below).
To and From the Amalfi Coast
- The Coop Sant'Andrea company operate the ferry service for the Amalfi Coast, with services debuting every year from Easter weekend. Connections are to and between and return Salerno, Positano and Amalfi. In summer, the routes extend to Maiori and Minori. This is a much better way of enjoying the journey, and you will arrive with a smile on your face as it is very relaxing.
Amalfi forms a hub of the sea routes along the Amalfi Coast and you can find more complete information about all the routes available at http://coopsantandrea.com
- For private boat transfer, Charter La Dolce Vita are the industry leaders on the Amalfi Coast and offer transfers to your Amalfi Coast destination along with private luxury daily, weekly or overnight motor-yacht charter tours, visit: http://www.amalficoastyacht.com or phone: +39 3294603771
The Duomo of Salerno is amazing to see. Built in the 12th century, it is a peaceful place. At night, you can take a walk along the Lungomare, a boulevard with palmtrees and a nice view at the sea and the surrounding hills. The Villa Communale is an oasis of green at the centre of the city. Big plants, giant flowers, lots of spaces to sit. If you're quiet enough, you will hear the music boxes sing their beautiful song.
There are several good restaurants in Salerno and nearby, offering a wide range of food. In the center of the town, if you're looking for pizza you can go to:
- Il Vicolo della Neve one of the oldest restaurant in Salerno, located in the historic center. Pizza is served here, but they are also famous for their "pasta e fagioli" (pasta with beans).
- Donna Margherita a very good pizzeria, serving also fish dishes. Not very expensive, with high quality.
- Il Brigante serves mainly vegetable-based dishes. If you want to try local food, try the polpo! The food is basic but good and prices are low.
- Borgo Riccio, Strada Provinciale 86, n°56 Torchiara, ☎ +39 0974 831554. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. A great bed and breakfast with private rooms in the tranquility of the Cilento and Vallo del Diano National Park. Clean, cozy and friendly. Cooking facilities, English speaking staff, library. €80.
- Ostello Ave Gratia Plena, Via Dei Canali, ☎ +39 089234776. Check-in: 14.00, check-out: 10.00. A nice and good hostel in the heart of the Historic centre of Salerno. Friendly people, clean rooms and good service. Breakfast included, internet available. The Hostel also offers trips to Amalfi and other, adventurous hiking and biking trips. +15.
- Amalfi Coast - Venture out of Salerno towards Vietri sul Mare and head on one the most dramatic and breathtaking drives in the world, the Amalfi Coast Drive, passing trough:
- Cetara, an enchanting fisherman's village, famous for anchovies and tuna fish,
- Maiori, the only real beach along the Amalfi Coast, Minori, the old pasta factory of the Amalfi Coast
- Atrani, tiny little village, once here the Doge's of the Amalfi Sea Republic were crowned here
- Amalfi, the crown jewel and center of the Amalfi Coast
- Conca dei Marini
- Furore, with a unique fiord,
- and finally,