Just south of the Amalfi Coast, the seaside town of Salerno is home to the magnificent 11th-century Cathedral of Saint Matthew—one of the most beautiful medieval churches in Italy, with an ornate baroque crypt containing the remains of the Apostle Matthew. It’s an easy day trip from Sorrento, Positano, or Amalfi.
The Salerno Cathedral (Duomo di Salerno or Cattedrale di San Matteo) was built during the Norman period and has a somewhat plain exterior that belies the beauty of its 17th-century crypt inside, with rich marble floors, exquisite frescoes, and elaborate gold mosaics forming a lavish backdrop for the relics of Saint Matthew. The basilica is home to precious artworks—12th-century mosaics, massive bronze doors, and the tomb of Pope Gregory VII, leader of the Holy Roman Empire who died in exile in Salerno in 1085—and is known for its 12th-century bell tower.
Salerno is an ideal excursion from Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, and Naples; a stop at the Cathedral is a highlight of guided tours through the narrow streets of Salerno's old town. You can also combine a visit to Salerno with day tour of Paestum, about an hour south.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Conservative clothing is required in the cathedral; shorts and tank tops are strictly prohibited.
- Tours of the center of Salerno require some walking, so wear comfortable shoes.
- The cathedral is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- Photography without flash is allowed inside the cathedral.
How to Get There
The Salerno Cathedral is located on Piazza Alfano I in the center of Salerno; it’s accessible by bus and train running from a number of locations throughout Campania. To avoid the hassle of public transportation, however, consider joining an organized tour that includes Salerno and Paestum.
When to Get There
Salerno is significantly less touristy than the nearby Amalfi Coast; in summer, you might consider it a welcome break from the crowds.
The Chapel of the Treasures of St. Matthew
The Salerno Cathedral’s beautiful 16th-century Chapel of the Treasures of St. Matthew (Cappella del Tesoro di San Matteo), is open to visitors on the 21st day of each month. If you time your visit right, you can view the Gothic relics, silver statues, and other precious artifacts inside.