Salerno & Amalfi Coast-Campania
Amalfi is a town and commune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno, 24 miles southeast of Naples. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto (1,315 meters, 4,314 feet), surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. The town of Amalfi was the capital of The Maritime Republic of Amalfi, an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.

See also Duchy of Amalfi and Archdiocese of Amalfi for the ecclesiastical history.

Amalfi is first mentioned in the 6th century, and soon acquired importance as a maritime power, trading its grain, salt and slaves from the interior, and even timber, for the gold dinars minted in Egypt and Syria, in order to buy the silks of the Byzantine empire that it resold in the West. Merchants of Amalfi were using gold coins to purchase land in the 9th century, while most of Italy worked in a barter economy. In the 8th and 9th century, when Mediterranean trade revived it shared with Gaeta the Italian trade with the East, while Venice was in its infancy, and in 848 its fleet went to the assistance of Pope Leo IV against the Saracens.

The Amalfi coast.
An independent republic from the seventh century until 1075, it rivalled Pisa and Genoa in its domestic prosperity and maritime importance. It was then an independent republic with a population of some 70,000, reaching an apogee about the turn of the millennium, during the reign of Duke Manso (966–1004). Under his line of dukes, Amalfi remained independent, except for a brief period of Salernitan dependency under Guaimar IV.

In 1073 it fell to the Norman countship of Apulia, but was granted many rights. A prey to the Normans who encamped in the south of Italy, it became one of their principal posts. However, in 1131, it was reduced by King Roger II of Sicily, who had been refused the keys to its citadel. The Holy Roman Emperor Lothair, fighting in favour of Pope Innocent II against King Roger of Sicily, who sided with the Antipope Anacletus, took him prisoner in 1133, assisted by forty-six Pisan ships. The city was sacked and Lothair claimed as part of the booty a copy of the Pandects of Justinian which was found there.

Amalfi was a populous city between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In 1135 and 1137, it was taken by the Pisans and rapidly declined in importance, though its maritime code, known as the Tavole Amalfitane, was recognized in the Mediterranean until 1570.

In medieval culture Amalfi was famous for its flourishing schools of law and mathematics. Flavio Gioia, who is traditionally considered the first to introduce the mariner's compass to Europe, is said to be a native of Amalfi.

In 1343 a large part of the lower town was destroyed by a tsunami, and its harbor is now of little importance.

Amalfi is the main town of the coast on which it is located, named Costiera Amalfitana, and is today an important tourist destination together with other towns on the same coast, such as Positano, Ravello and others. Amalfi is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Amalfi coast is famed for its production of Limoncello liqueur and home-made paper used throughout Italy for wedding invitations.

Salerno is a town that is the capital of the province of Salerno in Campania, south-western Italy,. Salerno is located on the gulf of the same name on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The main town of the "Costiera Amalfitana"— the part of the "Amalfi Coast on the Tyrrhenian, which includes famous towns of Amalfi, Positano, and others— it is mostly known in recent history for having hosted the king of Italy, who escaped 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. Some of the Allied landings during Operation Avalanche (the invasion of Italy) occurred near Salerno.

Pre-Roman times
The area of what is now Salerno has been settled since pre-historical times, although the first certain signs of human presence date to the period between the ninth and sixth centuries BC. We know the Samnites-Etruscans city of Irna, situated across the Irno river, in today's Salernitan quarter of Fratte. This settlement represented an important base for Etruscan trade with the Greek colonies of Posidonia and Elea.

The Roman city
With the Roman advance in Campania, Irna began to lose its importance, being supplanted by the new Roman colony (194 BC) of Salernum, developing around an initial castrum. The new city, which gradually lost its military function in favour of its role as a trade center, was connected to Rome by the Via Popilia, which ran towards Lucania and Reggio Calabria.

Archaeological remains, although fragmentary, suggest the idea of a flourishing and lively city. Under Diocletianus, in the late third century AD, Salernum became the administrative centre of the Bruttia and Lucania province.

In the fifth century Salerno remained an important center under the Ostrogoth domination of Italy.

In the following century, during the Gothic Wars, the Goths were defeated by the Byzantines, whose domination however later lasted only fifteen years (from 553 to 568), before the Lombards invaded almost the whole peninsula. Like many coastal cities of southern city (Gaeta, Sorrento, Amalfi), Salerno initially remained untouched by the newcomers, falling only in 646. It subsequently became part of the Duchy of Benevento.

The Lombard city
Under the Lombard dukes Salerno lived the most splendid period of its history.

In 774 Arechi II transferred the seat of the Duchy of Benevento to Salerno, in order to elude Charlemagne's offensive and to secure for himself the control of a strategic area, the centre of coastal and internal communications in Campania.

With Arechi II, Salerno grew to great splendour, becoming a centre of studies with its famous Medical School. The Lombard prince ordered the city to be fortified; the Castle on the Bonadies mountain had already been built with walls and towers. In 839 Salerno declared independent from Benevento, becoming the capital of a flourishing principality stretching out to Capua, northern Calabria and Puglia up to Taranto.

Around the year 1000 prince Guaimar IV annexed Amalfi, Sorrento, Gaeta and the whole duchy of Puglia and Calabria, starting to conceive a future unification of the whole southern Italy under Salerno's arms. The coins minted in the city circulated in all the Mediterranean, with the Opulenta Salernum wording to certify its richness.

However, the stability of the principate was continually shaken by the Saracen attacks and, most of all, by internal struggles. In 1056, one of the numerous plots led to the fall of Guaimar. His weaker son Gisulf II succeeded him, but the begin of the decline for the principality had begun.

Salerno under Normans, Hohenstaufen, and Anjou
On December 13, 1076 the Norman conqueror Robert Guiscard, who had married Guaimar IV's daughter Sichelgaita, besieged Salerno and defeated his brother-in-law Gisulf. This act put an end to hundreds of years of Lombard dominance, but did not check the city's vitality. In this period the royal palace (Castel Terracena) and the magnificent Arab-Gothic style cathedral were built, and science was boosted as the Salerno Medical School, considered the most ancient medical institution of European West, reached its maximum splendour.

Salerno played a conspicuous part in the fall of the Norman kingdom. After the Emperor Henry VI's invasion on behalf of his wife, Constance, the heiress to the kingdom, in 1191, Salerno surrendered and promised loyalty on the mere news of an incoming army. This so disgusted the archbishop, Nicholas of Ajello, that he abandoned the city and fled to Naples, which held out in a siege. In 1194, the situation reversed itself: Naples capitulated, along with most other cities of the Mezzogiorno, and only Salerno resisted. It was sacked and pillaged, much reducing its importance and prosperity. Henry had his reasons, though. He had entrusted Constance to the citizens and they had betrayed him and handed her over to King Tancred. Her combined treachery and stubbornness cost Salerno much after the Hohenstaufen conquest. Henry's son, Frederick II, moreover, issued a series of edicts that reduced Salerno's role in favour of Naples (in particular, the foundation of the University of Naples in that city).

Following the advice of Giovanni da Procida (a famous citizen of that time), King Manfred of Sicily, Frederick II's son, ordered a dock that still now has his name, to be built.

Moreover Manfred founded Saint Matthew's Fair, which was the most important in the south of Italy. After the Angevin conquest the city was particularly beautified by the work of the famous sculptor, Boboccio da Piperno, admired by Queen Consort Margherita of Durazzo who took up her abode in Salerno and was buried in the monumental tomb, which is today in the cathedral.

Salerno and the revival of medical learning in Western Europe
A noted medical school, or series of schools, existed at Salerno from at least the tenth century, and by the eleventh century it was widely acknowledged by contemporaries as the centre of medical knowledge in western Europe, in much the same way as Alexandria had been in the ancient world.

Around 1060 a Benedictine monk and native of Carthage, Constantine the African, arrived at the Abbey of Monte Cassino, 100 miles to the north of Salerno. With his knowledge of Arabic and Greek as well as Latin, he began to translate many of the medical texts from ancient Greece and Rome from the surviving Arabic translations into Latin. Constantine translated around twenty major works himself, such as Galen's Ars Parva, Hippocratic work including the Aphorisms and the Prognostics and the great encyclopedic work known as the patengi. However, his most significant translation was probably the Isogoge of Joanittius, which would serve as an introduction to medical theory and practise for centuries.

The Sanseverino
From the fourteenth century onwards, most of the Salerno province became the territory of the Princes of Sanseverino, powerful feudal lords who acted as real owners of the region. They accumulated an enormous political and administrative power and attracted artists and men of letters in their own princely palace. In the fifteenth century the city was the scene of battles between the Angevin and the Aragonese royal houses with whom the local lords took sides alternatingly.

In the first decades of the sixteenth century the last descendent of the Sanseverino princes was in conflict with the Aragonese viceroy, causing the ruin of the whole family and the beginning of a long period of decadence for the city. The years 1656, 1688 and 1694 represent sorrowful dates for Salerno: the plague and the earthquake which caused many victims.

A slow renewal of the city occurred in the eighteenth century with the end of the Spanish dominion and the construction of many refined houses and churches characterising the main streets of the historical centre.

In 1799 Salerno was incorporated into the Parthenopean Republic. During the Napoleonic era, first Joseph Bonaparte and then Joachim Murat ascended the Neapolitan throne. The latter decreed the closing of the Salerno Medical School, that had been declining for decades to the level of a theoretical school. In the same period even the religious Orders were suppressed and numerous ecclesiastical properties were confiscated.

The city expanded beyond the ancient walls and sea connections were potentiated as they represented an important road network that crossed the town connecting the eastern plain with the area leading to Vietri and Naples.

After the unification of Italy a slow urban development continued, many suburban areas were enlarged and large public and private buildings were created. The city went on developing till the Second World War.

World War II and after
In September 1943, Salerno was the scene of the landing of the allies and from February 12 to July 17, 1944 it gave hospitality to the Government of Marshal Pietro Badoglio.

The post-war period was difficult for all the Italian cities, but Salerno managed to improve little by little and to aim at becoming a modern European city. In recent years the town administration has taken great strides giving a great impulse to the revaluation of the whole urban territory.