Friday, 6 November 2015

Salerno: Italy Revisited Through Strawberry-Glazed Eyes

Finding ourselves stiff from the ferry but back on dry land, we spent the morning driving across the ankle of the boot that is Italy. As all of us had explored that area of the country on previous trips, we felt no need to stop and beelined straight for a pasticceria (pastry shop) in Salerno. 

Salerno, Italy (Salerno, Italia) 
Being back in Italy was wonderful - everyone drove like shit and parked in the middle of the road to have a chat with someone on the footpath in their melodious voices. We didn't realise that Salerno is a university town, and as we were there during lunchtime I think each of the 34,000 students strolled out in front of our car as we were trying to find parking, not sparing a single thought for pedestrian crossings or traffic lights. The streets smelled like sewers and scooters zoomed past down narrow alleyways, and I loved every second of it (even though I tend to get a little road-ragey). 
Ahhh, what a delicious scazzetta! What's a scazzetta, you may ask? Well, and it is a fine thing: sponge cake soaked in liqueur, layered with fresh wild strawberries, chantilly cream and topped with a strawberry glaze. You'll have to come to Pasticceria Pantaleone to get the real deal, as that's where it was invented! 
Our one other stop was the duomo with its mixture of styles: built in the eleventh century by the Normans, it has an overall Arabic-Norman style but also contains Romanesque and Byzantine features (and a mildly out-of-place brick belltower). 
Apparently the remains of Saint Matthew are beneath the altar. Why must churches be filled with the bones of saints? Sometimes all they can get is the smallest digit of a left pinky finger, yet they still dress it up in gold and display it under glass. 
The main doors were brought back from Constantinople in the eleventh century. It seems that when cared for well, bronze remains remarkably preserved. I liked the bear's head poking his tongue out. 
I'm not sure where it was exactly, but supposedly there's an area inside the church called the Cappella Delle Crociate where the weapons of warriors would be blessed before going off to fight in the Crusades. Fun fact: that was quite a long time ago. 
After our quota of history was filled for the day, we set off for the Amalfi coast to take in crazy narrow clifftop streets and towns spilling down to the Mediterranean Sea. 

Today's post was almost called: the Road is Their Campus