Dr. Paolo Cavallo

Pharmacist, MRPharmS, PharmD

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Last update on   06.02.2017

 

 

My roots: The Medical School of Salerno

 


 

I come from Salerno, Italy, the main city (county town) between the marvellous Amalfi Coast and the pristine Cilento Coast.

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

Salerno old town centre is a well preserved medieval town on the sea style with a hugely refined cathedral (Romanesque architecture dedicated to Saint Matthew, 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. Its core is more than 2km 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...).

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

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 geographic and other favourable conditions, many of these cultural contributions synergized to form 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.

 


References

 

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

THE FIRST COSMETIC TREATISE OF HISTORY. A FEMALE POINT OF VIEW.

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

 

M. Bifulco & P. Cavallo.

THYROIDOLOGY IN THE MEDIEVAL MEDICAL SCHOOL OF SALERNO

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


Edited by Paolo Cavallo


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