Travelers vacationing along the Amalfi Coast should consider a visit to the Salerno Cathedral (Duomo di Salerno). The 11th century structure, also called the St Matthew Cathedral, is thought to be the most beautiful medieval church in Italy, its seemingly plain exterior giving way to a stunning crypt below the basilica. Step behind the small door in the north aisle at the front of the church and you’ll be taken aback: marbled floors, wall-to-wall frescoes and elaborate gold mosaics come together in a lavish display of Baroque design, rendering the 17th century crypt—and final resting place of the Apostle Matthew—a centuries-renowned work of art.
Inside the crypt, you’ll see the remains of Saint Matthew and Renaissance ceiling frescos depicting scenes from the gospel and history of Salerno. The basilica, too, is steeped in art and history, including 12th-century Arab-Sicilian-inspired mosaics, massive bronze Byzantine-style doors and the tomb of Pope Gregory VII, the Holy Roman Empire leader who died in exile in Salerno in 1085.
Though the cathedral is the longest-standing attraction in Salerno, its proximity to the famed beach resorts in Amalfi means it often goes overlooked, allowing those who do visit the church the chance to get away—no crowds, no tickets, no problem. To get the most out of your visit, combine a tour of old town Salerno with a tour of the archaeological site of Paestum on a full-day trip departing from Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano or Naples.
Insider’s Tip: The Treasure’s Chapel (Capella del Tesoro di San Matteo) is open to visitors on the 21st day of each month, providing the unique experience to view gothic relics, including St Matthew’s arm, and the statue of the Salerno Martyrs.
The Salerno Cathedral is located just 16 miles (26 km) east of Amalfi. It is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30am-8pm, and on Sunday from 8:30am-1pm and 4pm-8pm. The crypt is open Monday through Saturday from 9am-7:45pm, and on Sunday from 8:30am-1pm and 4pm-6pm. The Treasure Chapel is open on the 21st day of each month from 9am-1pm.
Entrance to the cathedral and crypt is free, while admission to the Treasure Chapel costs €1. Conservative clothing is required in the cathedral, with shorts and tank tops strictly prohibited.
Salerno is accessible from all major cities along the Amalfi Coast, with buses and trains running frequently to and from Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi and Positano. From Naples city center, take the train marked Reggio di Calabria Centrale or Salerno to arrive at Salerno Station, three minutes from the cathedral. The journey takes about an hour. From Sorrento, Amalfi and Positano, you’ll need to take two buses, or avoid the hassle by arriving by coach on an organized tour that includes a visit to the other nearby historical sites.