Updated 09.22.2019. Located in Campania, Italy, the port city of Salerno acts as a popular hub for tourists making their way to Positano and Amalfi. While enchanting towns along the Amalfi coast are numerous, they’re often overcrowded and commercialized.
Guest contributor, Lauren Palumbo from Lauren Relocated, shows us how to travel like a local on your next vacation with 3 unexpected day trips from Salerno, Italy.
Day Trips From Salerno #1: Explore ancient Greek temples in Paestum
When talking about ancient ruins in Italy, historians tend to focus on Roman ruins. Yet, forty-five minutes south of Salerno along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea lies a much different and much older set of ruins. Taking the train from Salerno to Paestum is an easy way to get there.
Settled by the Greeks in 600 BC, Poseidonia (later renamed Paestum by the Romans) was a major city in Magna Grecia. Abandoned in the middle ages and untouched until the 18th century, today Paestum houses some of the most well-preserved Doric temples in the world.
Walk among ruins of the ancient agora and amphitheaters and visit the National Archeological Museum across the street (paid admission gets you access to both the museum and the ruins). Inside the museum find the famous fresco The Tomb of the Diver (discovered on accident by an artichoke farmer in 1969!) Preserved as if it were just painted yesterday, it’s the only large-scale Greek fresco from this era to survive in entirety.
Boomer travel tips:
- Skip the line with a private tour of Paestum.
- Interested in WWII history? While you’re in Paestum, tour the Allied landing sites as you trace the route of Operation Avalanche.
Salerno Day Trip #2: Visit Capaccio for buffalo milk ice cream
People in Campania are serious about their mozzarella di bufala. This special mozzarella is made from the milk of the Mediterranean water buffalo and is so prized that it even comes with a special certification.
As a result, hundreds of cheese farms or Caseificio populate this region. After a recent Salerno day trip to the Caseificio Tenuta Vannulo in the small town of Capaccio, it became clear this was no ordinary Italian cheese producer.
Unofficially, Tenuta Vannulo is only the chicest day spa in Campania for water buffalo. Officially, it’s a certified organic farm and cheese producer. Take a tour and you’ll find a true utopia for its animal inhabitants.
The concept is simple: a stress-free environment that improves the animal’s well-being produces a better product. Open air, sunshine, music, washing stations and massagers on demand—is this a buffalo spa?
The best part? They choose when to be milked by walking into an automatic milking station when they feel like it.
Take a tour of their cheese production area to see how mozzarella is made by hand. They even have a tannery with small leather goods for sale and an extensive collection of farming equipment from the old days. Reserve a spot for lunch in the tasting room for a private meal where you’ll enjoy organic products from their farm.
However, the highlight of the trip (if we’re being honest) is their Yogurteria. The selection of artisanal yogurts, gelato, whipped cream, and jarred spreads (all made from buffalo milk) are enough to satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth.
Come hungry and enjoy a homemade brioche with a nutty hazelnut spread for breakfast, you won’t regret it. Next head over to their Caseificio to buy your mozzarella and ricotta (but go early before they sell out!)
Salerno Day Tour #3: Visit picturesque Cetara
Inspired to explore more of Italy? Start at our Italy Travel Planner.
Twenty-five minutes from Salerno, tiny whitewashed homes baked into the cliffs hug the shoreline of Cetara. The small unspoiled fishing town of less than 3,000 qualifies as a hidden gem on the emerald Amalfi coast. Cetara is renowned for its Colatura di Alici, a savory amber-colored anchovy sauce used as a condiment in many dishes.
Italians know that creating exceptional things (especially food and art) take time. The slow production method of la colatura is an example of this dedication and workmanship. The anchovies are harvested on the coast in the summertime and pressed in weighted wooden barrels, which are drained in the autumn for their salty, sticky sauce.
Enjoy a relaxing lunch steps away from the beach at the restaurant Acquapazza (literally “crazy water”). Acquapazza is a traditional style of cooking fish along the Amalfi coast.
No-fuss quality ingredients—olive oil, cherry tomatoes, water, and salt— allow the undeniable flavor of fresh fish to remain center stage. Don’t leave without trying an appetizer of their famed alici and a main course of ricciola al acquapazza (yellowtail).
Come to Cetara to pick up a bottle of Colatura di Alici and enjoy the solitude you’d be hard pressed to find in neighboring Positano or Amalfi.
Where to stay in Salerno, Italy
Salerno makes a good headquarters for exploring the Amalfi Coast. Although somewhat touristy—show me a town on the Amalfi coast that isn’t—Salerno is more of a working city than Positano or Amalfi, with a more local feel.
Donna and Alan stayed at Barone Bed and Breakfast in Salerno on the last night of their southern Italy road trip after a day exploring Matera. They appreciated the comfortable accommodations that included breakfast. The Barone gets good reviews on TripAdvisor, as well. Check them out.
Getting around Salerno
From Salerno, take the train or bus to any number of historic, quaint towns on the Amalfi Coast. From spring to fall, enjoy getting around by ferry, even venturing as far as Capri. Salerno also has a bike sharing program.
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