The Province of Salerno is a combination of unique emotions. It is the beauty of the coast. It is the charm of an ancient history. It is the scent of an unspoiled environment. For all these reasons, it seduces and conquers the visitor’s heart upon each new entry into its territory. It takes very little to discover its magic.
Salerno came to prominence as the first faculty-University of the Christian West because of its importance as a center where Islamic science, particularly medicine, became known to Europe.
The principal reason for linking Salerno and Islamic science is the fact that Salerno came to such prominence as the first faculty-University of the Christian West as soon as it received the visit of a scholar known under his European name Constantine the African, a Tunisian in origin (Tunisia being called at that time Ifriqiya, from which was derived the name Africa that designated the whole continent). Islamic medicine really began to make its influence felt at Salerno in the middle of the 11thcentury, precisely following this arrival of Constantine.
The Apennines, certified natural monuments, frame a setting of soft sea breezes, small bays and coves, a pristine coast, streams lined by green forests, picturesque villages, places of a distant past, ancient traditions, and things still made with TLC.
If the appeal of the coast captures the world’s attention, the inland terrain conquers the soul of those that go in search of it.
The marvellous littoral – made up of beaches, cliffs and enchanting caves, and facing a sea that is a kaleidoscope of colors – prepares the visitor for the splendour of the interior.
The Sarno River traverses green valleys with the Picentini and Lattari Mountains hovering overhead, while landscapes are drawn by the geometric cultivations of intensely-red San Marzano tomatoes. This is a welcoming land marked by enticing flavours and smells, by peace and quiet, all the while recounting its history through palaces, churches and castles, popular traditions and cultural events. And when you arrive in Cilento, you’ll know it.
Sheer cliffs, caves and caverns, white beaches, maquis and a multi-colored sea: such is the Cilento Coast, stretching from Agropoli to Sapri and passing through many picturesque villages that are filled with history.
Driving inland, the visitor enters the heart of the National Park, a natural treasure where the green of the oak, maple, ash and chestnut forests becomes more intense and, on the mountains, gives way to tall beech forests.
It is a world of contrasts, nonetheless linked one to the other by the harmony of this incomparably beautiful environment.
Memories of a visit here continue to echo in the heart long after leaving.
WHAT TO SEE
Amalfi, with its beautiful beachfront where the streets, alleys and stairs meander through the town toward the Duomo, is known for its magnificent mosaic façade.
The elegant and sophisticated Ravello (home of the famed Festival) boasts its Duomo, as well as the gorgeous Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo, a mixture of different styles and periods surrounded by charming terraces.
Minori, famous for the beauty of tits landscape and for its 1st-Century Roman villa, finely decorated with stuccos, mosaics and frescos.
Praiano, then, can be discovered by hiking the trails that wind through an unparalleled natural environment, or by visiting attractions such as the Church of San Luca Evangelista, that displays marvellous 16th-Century paintings.
Positano is a gem nestled among stark cliffs, with the three Sirenuse Islets just offshore. The colour of the houses mingles with that of the boutiques, the workshops and the elegant bars and restaurants that enliven the narrow streets.
A visit to the Grotta dello Smeraldo, or Emerald Cave, is a wonderful experience, thanks to the many stalactites and stalagmites, and the bright colour diffused by sunlight that penetrates through the cracks and crannies of the rocks.
In the Cilento area one can have an ideal vacation experience, within a landscape dotted with charming towns and significant archaeological and historical sites. Innumerable itineraries follow trails that narrate millennia of history, all framed by a gorgeous sea and pristine beaches.
WHAT TO DO
The natural environment within the Province of Salerno is akin an open-air gym.
The beauty of the sea is an irresistible call for those that love snorkeling, seawatching and scuba diving. Windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing, sailing, canoeing are also highly recommended.
A boat trip in search of hidden coves or sea grottoes is an experience that leaves indelible moments impress in the visitor’s memory.
For those who simply desire relaxation in the sun or time to dive into the crystal-clear waters, the topography here gives way to plenty of beaches and coves abounding with the scent of the maquis, and fresh, caressing breezes.
The Spas of Contursi and Montesano sulla Marcellana provide treatments utilizing the healing properties of the mineral waters.
For the more intrepid tourist, the Cilento e Vallo di Diano National Park is ideal. The Grotte di Castelcivita trail that winds through tunnels and underground passages filled with stalactites and stalagmites is a must; the trail arrives at the edge of the “death wells,” deep water wells.
The itinerary of the Grotte dell’Angelo takes the visitor to the heart of the underground park, 8,202 feet deep, an almost surreal environment.
Trekking, hiking or mountain-biking are a few ways to discover the beauty of this land.
Cultural events and festivals spice up the villages and towns of the Province. Claiming international fame is the Ravello Festival, originally established to commemorate the great composer Richard Wagner, but having since evolved to celebrate a broader concept of music and dance while still clinging its roots. Ravello is called the “city of music” and, thanks to the relatively-new Oscar Niemayer Auditorium, the schedule of events is busier than ever before.
The Regata Storica is a re-enactment of age of the Maritime Republics – Amalfi, Pisa, Genova and Venice – that has been held by turn in each city for over fifty years. The galleons, built reproducing the original vessels of the era, painted with the symbols of the Republics and conducted by a helmsman and eight rowers, challenge one another along a 1.24-mi course.
The International Dance Award has been held in Positano for over thirty years and is dedicated to the great choreographer Léonide Massine.
Those who love shopping and souvenirs will be able to choose from the fashions of Moda Positano, the prized Amalfi paper, colorful ceramics in Vietri sul Mare, and the unique objects made from the olive-tree leaves of the Cilento zone.
Compelling is the Disfida dei Trombonieri, held during the summer in Cava de’ Tirreni in memory of the Battle of Sarno, where the eight Casali battle with swords and knives to win the silver copy of the Pergamena Bianca, the White Parchment.
Finally, the area is also known for its nightlife, with many places to visit at night.
WHAT TO EAT
The cheese selection is ample in its flavours and varieties such as buffalo mozzarella and burrino are all still produced according to centuries-old tradition. (please note that not all cheese is halal so ask when dining).
The variety of products and recipes will not disappoint those seeking the flavours that evoke the passion and the joy of its people.