If you are wondering what to see in Salerno in one day, you are in the right place! In this guide I list some of the most important things to do and see in Salerno, as well as revealing some curiosities and secrets of this beautiful city. For more information and questions, feel free to write me on Whatsapp and you will receive the interactive maps of the different itineraries!
- Shopping in Corso Vittorio Emanuele
- Via dei Mercanti and the artisan workshops
- Visit the Cathedral of Salerno
- The Minerva Garden: secret view of the city
- Rione Fornelle, Street art and Villa Comunale
- Salerno Promenade and Santa Teresa beach
- Piazza della Libertà (Freedom Square)
- Visit the Arechi Castle
- Reach the Amalfi Coast from Salerno
1. Shopping in Corso Vittorio Emanuele
If you arrive in Salerno by train, your walking itinerary can only start from Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the square of the central train station. Starting from the square, Corso Vittorio Emanuele branches off: one of the main shopping streets in Salerno. We are in the most modern part of the city, less characteristic but no less beautiful. There are many shops and places where to eat, so do not hesitate to contact me to get the map with local advice to guide you.
The first point of arrival of this itinerary is Piazza Sedile di Portanova. The square divides Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via dei Mercanti, the heart of the oldest part of the city of Salerno. This is where the Christmas tree is installed during the period of the Artist Lights!
Before we go into the alleys, I want to reveal a curiosity about the name of the square. Piazza “Portanova” refers to the new gate of the city, “new” because it was rebuilt following a flood that destroyed it. It can also be considered the gate that from the most modern part of the city, and therefore newer, allows us to enter the heart of its historic center.
2. Via dei Mercanti and the artisan workshops
Since the Middle Ages, Via Dei Mercanti was the main road of communication and trade, animated by artisan shops, among which the drape shops (commercial fabrics) prevailed, so that via dei Mercanti was also called “Drapparia“. In place of the old workshops, today there are still many craftsmen’s shops that have been able to blend tradition and innovation. If you are careful you can still see old signs of historic workshops in Salerno!
Walking along Via dei Mercanti you will reach Piazza Sedile del Campo, more commonly called “Largo Campo” where you can admire the Fountain of Fish, attributed to Luigi Vanvitelli.
3. Visit the Cathedral of Salerno
Right in the middle, Via Dei Mercanti intersects with Via Duomo, a small street that leads to the Cathedral of San Matteo, better known as the Duomo of Salerno. With its Baroque staircase and façade, the Duomo reveals some of the most important stages in the history of Salerno. Through the “Porta dei Leoni“(door of leons) you enter the inner courtyard where the eastern atmosphere merges with the colonnades that recall the Roman period. To complete the picture, just raise your eyes upwards to admire the 52-metre-high bell tower with its Arab-Norman architecture.
The two lions placed at the entrance of the cathedral are the protagonists of a legend. According to the latter, the inhabitants of Salerno, frightened by the pirates, hid in the cathedral, praying God to help them. When the pirates arrived at the portal, the two lions came to life sacked the pirates. In addition, the male lion represents the power of the Church, while the female who nurses her puppy represents Charity.
It was precisely the Normans, and in particular Robert the Guiscard, who wanted to build the cathedral to celebrate his own power. In addition to this, there are several traces left by the Normans in Salerno, which we will still find along our way. To learn more about the history of Salerno, click here.
You can visit the Cathedral of Salerno free of charge from 8.30 in the morning until 20.00 on weekdays. On public holidays there is a break between 13.00 and 16.00.
4. The Minerva Garden: secret view of the city
Starting from Via Duomo, through Via Trotula de Ruggiero, you reach, a little uphill, the Minerva Garden. The climb, trust me, ensures a breathtaking view!
The Minerva Garden is a terraced botanical garden where you can admire Salerno from above in complete tranquility. Especially on the busiest days when the streets are chaotic, a stop at the Minerva Garden helps you find calm and regenerate.
The Minerva Garden was built, around 1300, to cultivate some of the plants from which the active principles used for therapeutic purposes were obtained, as well as as an educational space of the Salerno Medical School: here, in fact, students were taught to recognize which plants had been used to treat the various diseases. The Salerno Medical School, in fact, can be considered the first university of medicine in Europe. Salerno’s doctors used practical remedies and their natural remedies were born from experience, and women played a fundamental role in this. Among these, Trotula de Ruggiero (from which the street that leads to the Garden takes its name) was the first woman doctor and scientist in Europe, as well as the first woman to write about women’s medicine. Today the Minerva Garden houses a handmade herbal tea shop with a breathtaking view where you can taste drinks made using exclusively aromatic plants and spices from organic agriculture of the botanical garden. What are you waiting for? Visiting the Minerva Garden is a must when it comes to what to see in Salerno.
5. Rione Fornelle, Street art and Villa Comunale
Starting from Largo Campo, continuing along Via Portacatena, it is possible to enter one of the most “pictorial” districts of Salerno: the Rione Fornelle. Walking along Via Portacatena, look for a very narrow alley with many writings: Vicolo D. Trofimena. This narrow alley will be the gateway to the magic of the neighborhood. That of the “Muri d’autore” is an untraced artistic path, which transforms this corner of Salerno into an open-air museum, which represents almost a treasure hunt. You can read more in this article where I talk about Salerno’s street art in more detail. Write me to get the interactive map and find it easily!
From the Fornelle district, returning to Via Portacatena, passing next to the Church of the Santissima Annunziata, you can head towards the Municipal Villa of Salerno, which during the period of the artist’s Lights takes the name of “Enchanted Garden“. At the entrance, there will be a kiosk to welcome you, if you are lucky to find it open, it is a must to try the artisanal lemon sorbet! One of the best ever. Try it!
Walking along the villa, stop where there is a tree with a small “bookcase” and look in the opposite direction to the sea. You can admire one of the most beautiful views of Salerno: the pink bell tower of the church of the Santissima Annunziata with the dome that stands out in the green of the hill, above which dominates the Arechi Castle that divides the green of the mountain from the blue of the sky. Even at night, the view is very evocative!
Finally, reach the beautiful and imposing Tullio Fountain to cool off, drink, and continue towards the sea, where the Piazza della Libertà (Freedom square) and the promenade await you.
6. Salerno Promenade and Santa Teresa beach
The Salerno promenade, which runs along the sea for about 1.5 km, is the ideal place for a walk in Salerno. At every hour of the day the atmosphere is different, thanks to the different shades of colors that the sea and the sky, together with the profile of the coast, are able to offer. Especially for this reason, the promenade of Salerno remains one of the most beautiful places to have an aperitif at sunset in Salerno. One of the stops that I highly recommend is at the beach of Santa Teresa, where you can drink or tease something at the kiosk, and then sit on the wooden steps on the beach to admire the sea, in that part of the city that is called by locals “Salifornia Beach”.
7. Piazza della Libertà (Freedom Square)
After a stop at the beach of Santa Teresa, it is absolutely worth visiting Piazza della Libertà, the largest square by the sea in Europe. Opened in October 2021, still waiting to be populated by shops, Piazza della Libertà offers breathtaking scenery and a feeling of freedom and immensity (the square extends for 28,000 square meters at an altitude of about 5 meters above sea level). Designed by the Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill, Piazza della Libertà, is enclosed by a semicircular part, called “Crescent” (from the English “crescent moon”), while for the rest it extends towards the sea, delimiting abstractly the Amalfi Coast on the right and the Cilento Coast on the left. If you are wondering, the diameter of the hemicycle measures 150 meters, and the flooring design recalls the Norman geometries, which, as we have seen, have left an important mark in the history of the city of Salerno.
Once you reach the top of the triangle, where the “diamond” is located, you can admire, on the right, the Maritime Station in the shape of an oyster designed by the architect Zaha Hadid, and then turn and look at the city from the sea: in front of you, there will be Salerno, bordered by its beautiful promenade. Looking higher and higher, framing everything, you will see the gentle profile of the mountains that blends with the jagged profile of the Arechi Castle that dominates the city from above.
8. Visit the Arechi Castle
The Arechi Castle, which overlooks and observes the city of Salerno from 300 meters above sea level, offers a wonderful view of Salerno and the Gulf. If you want to reach it, please note that unfortunately it is not well connected by public transport, therefore, the best way to reach it is by car.
The castle collects the highlights of the history of past domination and dates back to Roman times, when the latter was built to defend Salerno from incursions. In 770, the Lombard prince Arechi, moved his residence from Benevento to Salerno and had the castle strengthened by modifying the ancient walls. It was Prince Arechi, therefore, who gave it a new look, as well as the name it still bears today!
Subsequently, the “Castle of Arechi” passed into the hands of the Normans of Roberto il Guiscardo, who built numerous coastal defense and sighting towers, built to spot the incursions of the Saracens and protect the territory.
9. Reach the Amalfi Coast from Salerno
Salerno can be considered a direct gateway to the Amalfi Coast: Vietri Sul Mare, Cetara, Erchie, Maiori, Amalfi, Positano, are some of the places on the Coast easily accessible from the Masuccio Salernitano Port or from the Manfredi Pier, thanks to the connections offered by the various ferry companies, including Travelmar.
For those who have a few hours of the day, it is advisable to visit Vietri sul Mare or Cetara (only 10 and 15 minutes away by ferry respectively), otherwise, for those who have the whole day available it is possible to consider reaching Amalfi and Positano (the farthest is Positano so you have to calculate a journey of about 45 minutes).
Reaching the Amalfi Coast by sea will not only save time, or avoid the traffic that characterizes the Amalfi Coast, especially in the summer months, but also admire this corner of paradise from the sea, which is definitely something to do!
So, what are you waiting for before planning the things to see in Salerno?
For anything, you can write me on Whatsapp and I will be able to answer any request for curiosity and help!