Placed in the heart of the homonym gulf, portrayed by the famous Salerno poet Alfonso Gatto as the "lunato" (lunar), Salerno represents the combination between a fascinating history and a huge sphere of artistic, urban and architectural beauties. Its provenances are very old and, above all, extremely high-toned. The first statements of the town are about 194 a.C. when, at the feet of the Castrum Salerni (now the hill of the Arechi castle) began a roman settlement.
Under the empire of Costantin, Salerno becomes the main seat of the province of Lucania et Brutium. But by the time the city subjected several Barbarian invasions, and while in this period of time the clergy was becoming always more preeminent especially on the political and social point of view.
Among the VII and the VIII century Salerno, full of wealthy traders, was conquered twice by the Longobards: in 646 and in 759. Thanks to the historical change there is the birth of the Principality of Salerno, governed by the Duke Arechi II, who will have his residence in the magnificent and majestic castle that now has its name and that stands above the hill where the Castrum Salerni was located.
The greatest glory of Salerno no doubt is during the Norman settlement. In 1076 Roberto Il Guiscardo proclaims Salerno as the capital of all his domains widespread in Italy. From this moment on the city becomes richer than Rome and hosts the most important and renowned school in all Europe at that time: "La Scuola Medica Salernitana". In this school were joined the traditional Arab medicine and the inventive experimentation of young scientists. The importance of this school is still alive indeed even now Salerno is known as "Hippocratica civitas" (the city of Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician) and exactly the ancient school has given origin to the modern university.
With time passing, the town enlarges and all over Salerno were built new structures, surely the most important is the "Duomo di San Matteo" (Cathedral of Saint Matthew) consecrated in honor of the evangelist, but we have also a new castle called "Castello di Terracena" that is located inside the city's walls. In the years of monasticism between people there was no more difference among Barbarian and Latin while at the same time the most powerful men of the catholic church were hoarding a lot of land tenures, that's the reason why in this period are built so many monasteries and convents.
Throughout the Renaissance Salerno loses its importance especially because it's not anymore the capital and so begins a period of decadence sharpened by the indifference of the Aragon sovereigns.
Only under the reign of the Sanseverino Princes Salerno rises up from this decline but it falls again during the Spanish domination where the kings were focused only on the capital: Naples. The artistic, political and social decline will last until the birth of the Italian Kingdom. Neverthless the darkness of the Spanish domination, Salerno, even in the worst moments, carried on establishing its supremacy on a physician point of view and starting from the last decades of the XIX century the city flourishes again.
The symbol of its rebirth is the "Teatro Verdi" (Verdi Theatre, in honor to the famous composer). Also throughout the Fascism appear the Palace of the City, the Palace of Justice and that of the postal service. After the fall of Mussolini and the armistice, Salerno, that was immediately taken away from the German occupation by the confederates, from the October of 1943 until the June of 1944 becomes the first capital of the free Italy. The 11th of February of 1944 for the first time the Government of Italy installed, presided over Ivanoe Bonomi. The most important Palaces hosted the several Ministries coordinated by the Town Hall, in which were seated the Presidency of Council, the Welfare State and the Minister of National Education.
King Vittorio Emanuele III was hosted in Villa Guariglia (a famous mansion situated in the Amalfi Coast) and then in Ravello (on the most charming places of all Salerno province, that is also situated in the Amalfi Coast). The first reunion of the Government of Badoglio (the President of the Council after the fall of Mussolini) took place the 10th October 1943 inside the Palace of the City.