A lot of our time has been spent ferry-hopping from town to town, but we’ve spent a fair share of time getting to know Salerno as well. Our sweet little home has some interesting landmarks of its own. The Minerva Gardens, Castello di Arechi, and Cathedral of San Matteo are all worth a visit.
In the heart of the city, Minerva Gardens was established as an offshoot of the historic Salerno Medical School. The plants found here aren’t for looks, but for research and development of natural treatments for diseases. Although the flowers aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing, it’s still a well-designed garden with a lot to appreciate. Plus, there is a small tea room that offers some tasty snacks and beverages. The man who served us was very knowledgeable about all of the herbs and ingredients. After walking around the garden and learning about the plants, sipping herbal tea was a pretty perfect way to cap off the experience.
At the top of the hill behind the city is the medieval Castello di Arechi. Centuries old, it has served as a defensive structure, city gate-keeper, and living quarters for soldiers and lords. It was abandoned for a period of time, and now the perfectly crumbling walls and allow for visitors to take in some of the best views of the city and sea. To reach the castle we recommend you take a bus or a taxi, don’t walk. It seems like it’s not far, but it’s mostly along a two lane road where you’re walking single file against the barricade because cars are flying around corners.
The largest cathedral in town, San Matteo Cathedral is multi-faceted. Outside in the courtyard is a relaxing and no-doubt-Italian setting. The cathedral level of the church is a beautiful structure with the large vaulted wood ceilings, light stone walls, and ornate chapel alcoves. Down a short set of stairs to the basement level, the crypt of San Matteo is a borderline overwhelming treasure chest of light and color below the relatively modest church. I literally gasped when I entered, and heard many similar responses from visitors who walked in after me. Every inch is gorgeous. It’s a sneaky little surprise in the best way.