Paolo Cavallo

MRPharmS, Pharmacy Manager

The School of Salerno
Cosmetic Science



Italian site

Italian version



Last update on   28.08.2019



My roots: The Medical School of Salerno



I come from Salerno, the main city (county town) between the marvellous Amalfi Coast and the pristine Cilento Coast which overlook the Gulf of Salerno in South-Western Italy.


My hometown has been deeply influenced my personal and professional background through its characteristic location, history, customs and vibes.


The first certain signs of human presence date to the period between the 9th and 6th Centuries BC, then in the 6th Century BC Etruscans established a settlement - named "Irna" after the local river Irno - which represented an important base for Etruscan trade with the South-Western Italian Greek colonies.

Finally in 197 BC Romans founded the Roman Colony of Salernum, developing around an initial castrum (in English "chester", the Latin word for "fort").

Around 1000 D.C. it became the Capital of one of the biggest Southern Italian princedoms - the Princedom of Salerno - which brought Salerno to its greatest heights and made it gain the - Latin - name of "Opulenta Salernum" (literally "The Lavish Salerno").

During the World Word II it had been the main theatre of the so called "Operation Avalanche" where the Allied invaded Italy on 9th September 1943 and soon after - precisely on 11th February 1944 - it become the first Italian post fascist Capital till August 1944.

Nowadays the local airport (Salerno-Costa d'Amalfi, QSR) is going to connect the area which deserves even more visitors.

Its old town centre is a well preserved medieval town on the sea style with a hugely refined cathedral (Romanesque architecture dedicated to Saint Matthew the Apostle, whose relics are inside the crypt), a very nice castle on the top of the hill and a classic Roman city planning.

The sea front esplanade is one of the best in Europe. It is almost 3km long and 30mt wide with three pedestrian lanes, a cycle lane and an external car lane surrounded by flowerbeds with its characteristic palm trees.

Its economy is basically promoted by its very important harbour activity and its architecture has been hugely modernised during last decades by a series of very well appreciated buildings designed by several very important international architects (i.e. Oriol Bohigas, Zaha Hadid, Sir David Alan Chipperfield, Massimiliano Fuksas, Ricardo Bofill...).


Anyway during the 9th - 13th Centuries it had been the base for the most important source of medical knowledge in Western Europe.

A legend tells that the foundation of the Medical School of Salerno starts with the occasional encounter among four masters: the Jewish Helinus, the Greek Pontus, the Arab Adela, and the Latin Salernus.

Indeed the School kept the Greek-Latin cultural tradition going, merging it harmoniously with the Arab and Jewish culture. The meeting of different cultures led to a medical learning arising from the synthesis and the comparison of different experiences.

Because of the geographic and other favourable conditions, many of these cultural contributions synergised with the Medical School at Salerno around 900 AD.

Before long it was considered something like the world's first university.

In the 11th century through the impulse given by Alfano I (died 1085) - Archbishop of Salerno - and Constantine the African, Salerno won the title of "Town of Hippocrates" (Hippocratica Civitas or Hippocratica Urbs).

People from all over the world flocked to the "Schola Salerni", both the sick - in the hope of recovering - and the student, to learn the art of medicine.

Its fame crossed borders, as proved by the Salernitan manuscripts kept in many European libraries, and by historical witnesses.

Interestingly here we had, on a hillock on the seaboard of the town, the most ancient European botanical garden, The Gardens of Minerva, from which it was possible to plant every kind of herb able to treat most of the illnesses known at that time.

Somewhat unusual was that female physicians played a part in the advances that came from this school. Among the contributions associated with the school of Salerno were textbooks of anatomy,  insistence on certification and training for physicians, application of investigative thinking and deduction that led to important advances such as the use of healing by secondary intention, the first textbook about aesthetics medicine, and the first recorded female medical school faculty member named Trotula de' Ruggiero. The women physicians of Salerno contributed to a textbook that gained wide acceptance and distribution throughout Europe.




Paolo Cavallo, Maria Chiara Proto, Cataldo Patruno, Antonio Del Sorbo and Maurizio Bifulco.


Int J Cosmet Sci. 2008 Apr;30(2):79-86.


M. Bifulco & P. Cavallo.


Thyroid Jan 2007, Vol. 17, No. 1: 39-40




See also



My academic works.

History, Seminars, Scientific Publications, Volunteers and Honors...


The Schola Medica Salernitana

by Wikipedia


Medieval Universities

by Wikipedia


University of Salerno

by Wikipedia


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