[Ciao]

"È la gaia pioggerella a far crescer l'erba bella."
Translation: "It's the merry drizzle that makes grass grow fine."

18.3.10

Beautiful Salerno and Ancient Paestum

The city of Salerno is so close to Vietri sul Mare that Ian and I probably could have walked there faster than it took for us to wait for the bus and ride into Salerno. But, Rosa, the owner of Il Melograno in Raito, insisted on accompanying us all the way from Raito to Salerno. She walked us right up to the front entrance of our B&B, Salerno Centro, and introduced us to the owner's parents. Talk about service!



I absolutely loved Salerno! The town felt like an Italian version of Boulder (without all the hippies and students, but the same laid-back attitude). The city was relaxing and the population seemed significantly younger than many of the cities we have stayed in. We felt more at home and as if we belonged. There was a beautiful boardwalk, Lungomare Trieste, near the coast where people of all ages would stroll from one end to the other. It wasn't very long, but it was a wonderfully relaxing place to sit and people watch in the sunshine. We even saw several people jogging and riding bikes! After all the running around and sight seeing we have done Salerno was the perfect place to relax and unwind.

The city is quite small and everything we wanted to see was a short walk from our centrally-located B&B. Salerno Centro B&B was like a home away from home. When we first arrived, we were greeted with a delicious shot of limoncello. Our room was warm, the bed was incredibly comfortable, and everything was impeccably clean. And, on top of it all, the B&B was perfectly located right in the middle of everything. It was a short walk to the Duomo, the gardens, the boardwalk, and the train station! We arrived in Salerno on Sunday, so we assumed everything would be closed. But, the city was bustling and several shops and cafes were open for business. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch of pasta and wine and met a terrific couple who helped us communicate with the waiter and decipher the menu. After lunch, we strolled along Lungomare Trieste and soaked up the sun. Purely relaxing.

As we have encountered numerous times on this trip, everything we wanted to do was apparently closed on Monday. We struck out four times in a row trying to see the Minerva Gardens, the San Matteo Cathedral, the Information Center, and the bus to Paestum, so we gave up and sat on the boardwalk watching people stroll by and gazing at the calming sea. After all of our relaxing, we were ready for some action, adventure, and sight seeing!

Therefore, Tuesday, we had an agenda packed-full of activities. We began with a visit to the Gardens of Minerva. Historically, the students of the Medical School in Salerno were taught lessons in these gardens, and apparently, the gardens were also the first in Europe where plants were cultivated purely for health remedies. The gardens were incredibly beautiful and peaceful. Ian and I were the only visitors, so we enjoyed complete serenity. Ian, the ever-curious, found a fresh, bright yellow lemon on the ground near a lemon tree and decided to try it. Oh Ian! He said it was quite tasty, but his lips were chapped all day!


After the gardens, we walked over the the Cathedral of San Matteo. A gorgeous atrium leads to the entrance of the cathedral and is completely surrounded by columns showcasing the Islamic influences. The cathedral's interior is nearly entirely white, but the simplicity makes it appear even more grand. Again, there were very few people visiting the cathedral, so it was very peaceful.


In the early afternoon, we took a bus to Paestum to visit the ancient temples and ruins. The bus ride was nearly and hour-and-a-half, but completely worth it! Paestum is an ancient Greek community housing some of the most complete and beautiful temple ruins. The temples are incredibly breathtaking! I have trouble comprehending how ancient people were able to complete such an architectural feat. Luckily, I had Ian with me. Ian was completely in his element. He spent so much time in school learning about the perfection of these temples that it was wonderful for him to be able to see them in person. He explained, as best he could, many of the details and mathematics behind the temples. I was just impressed with his knowledge and understanding of the design and construction of these magnificent temples. I was equally impressed with the Paestum Museum, which houses art and remains from the temples and community. There were gorgeous ceramic pieces and pottery painted in incredible detail. There was even a display of jewelry created to replicate pieces that Hera was depicted wearing. The museum was very interactive and much bigger than I had anticipated. It was a wonderful way to culminate our trip to Paestum.


I am sad to leave Salerno. I love our beautiful, comfortable B&B and feel so relaxed walking around town. And we made it nearly three whole days without rain! Ian and I decided if we were ever to move back to Italy we will live in Salerno. But, for now, we're off to Sicily! I'm anxious to see if southern Italy, especially Sicily, is different from the Italy we have seen thus far. We have a nine hour train ride to reach Palermo, the largest city on the Sicilian island. It will be a long ride, but I can't wait!

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