Salerno [saˈlɛrno] is a city and comune in Campania (south-western Italy) and is the capital of the province of the same name. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Salerno was an independent Lombard principality in the early Middle Ages. During this time, it became the site of the first medical school in the world. In the 16th century, under the Sanseverino family, among the most powerful feudal lords in southern Italy, the city became a great centre of learning, culture and the arts, and the family hired several of the greatest intellectuals of the time. Later, in 1694, the city was struck by several catastrophic earthquakes and plagues. After a period of Spanish rule which would last until the 18th century, Salerno became part of the Parthenopean Republic.
In recent history the city hosted the King of Italy, who moved from Rome in 1943 after Italy negotiated a peace with the Allies in World War II. A brief so-called “government of the South” was then established in the town, which became the Capital of Italy for some months. Some of the Allied landings during Operation Avalanche (the invasion of Italy) occurred near Salerno.
Today Salerno is an important cultural centre in Campania and Italy and has had a long and eventful history. The city has a rich and varied culture, and the city is divided into three distinct zones: the medieval sector, the 19th century sector and the more densely populated post-war area, with its several apartment blocks.
A patron saint of Salerno is Saint Matthew, the Apostle, whose relics are kept here at the crypt of Salerno Cathedral.