SALERNO, a city of Italy and the chief town of a province of its own name (formerly Principato Citeriore), is beautifully situated on the west coast 34 miles south-east of i Naples, and presents a fine appearance with the ruins of its old Norman castle on an eminence 905 feet above the sea and its background of graceful limestone hills. The town walls were destroyed in the beginning of the 19th century ; the seaward portion has given place to the Corso Garibaldi, the principal promenade. Among the conspicuous buildings are the theatre, the prefecture, and the cathedral of St Matthew (whose bones were brought from Pastum to Salerno in 954), begun in 1076 by Robert Guiscard and consecrated in 1084 by Gregory VII. In front is a beautiful quadrangular court (112 by 102 feet), surrounded by arcades formed of twenty-eight ancient pillars mostly of granite ; and the middle entrance into the church is closed by a remarkable bronze door of 11th or 12th century Byzantine work. The nave and two aisles end in apses. Two magnificent marble ambos, the larger dating from 1175, several specimens of ancient mosaic, and the tombs of Gregory VII. and Queen Margaret of Durazzo deserve to be mentioned. In the crypt is a bronze statue of St Matthew. The lofty aqueduct, one of whose arches is now used by the railway, is a building of 1320 ; the present water-supply is provided by a canal formed in 1865. A fine port constructed by Giovanni da Procida in 1260 was destroyed when Naples became the capital of the kingdom, and remained blocked with sand till after the unification of Italy. A series of works, especially those decreed in 1880, have provided an inner harbour of 40 acres (depth 12 to 22 feet), an outer harbour (22 to 25 feet), and wharves to the extent of 4468 feet. In 1884 180 vessels (29,078 tons) entered and 173 (28,069) cleared. Silk and cotton spinning are the principal industries. The population was 19,905 in 1870 and 22,328 (commune, 31,245) in 1881.
A Roman colony was founded at Salerno (Salernum) in 194 n.e. to keep the Picentines in check, but the city makes no figure in history till after the Lombard conquest. Dismantled by order of Charlemagne, it became in the 9th century the capital of an independent principality, the rival of that of Benevento, and was surrounded by strong fortifications. The Lombard princes, who had frequently defended their city against the Saracens, succumbed before Robert Guiscard, who took the castle after an eight months' siege and made Salerno the capital of his new territory. The removal of the court to Palermo and the sack of the city by the emperor Henry VI. in 1194 put a stop to its development. The position which the medical school of the Civitas Hippocratica (as it called itself on its seals) held in mediaeval times has been described under MEDICINE, vol. xv. pp. 806-807. Salerno university, founded in 1150, and long one of the great seats of learning in Italy, was closed in 1817.