Orto Botanico Giardino della Minerva
In the heart of medieval Salerno, near the torrent Fusandola and the ancient walls, stands a garden enclosed terrace, rich in history and vestiges not yet deleted: the Garden of Minerva. It runs along the axis of the gardens that from the Villa Comunale rise towards the medieval castle. The Garden of Minerva is located exactly half way of this ideal path and is certainly the most interesting historical and artistic values expressed in it. What is now apparent to the visitor - thanks to restoration work ended in September 2000 - is an interesting set of elements of type XVIII century. Among them, the most distinctive feature is a long staircase highlighted by cruciform pillars, with stucco decorations, supporting a pergola. The water distribution system, consisting of tanks and fountains, one for each terracing, with decorations made using limestone concretions, denotes the presence of substantial sources that, properly channeled, have allowed the centuries - in addition to various other uses - maintenance cultivation of the plots. The site has a special microclimate, favored by the low incidence of the north wind, and a favorable exposure, which still allows the cultivation and propagation of spontaneous plant species demanding in terms of humidity and heat. Owner of these places was, since the twelfth century, the family Silvatico, of which one component, Matthew, between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, he distinguished himself as an outstanding doctor of the School of Salerno and deep knowledge of plants for the production of medicines. His is Opus pandectarum medicinae, valuable collection of information on "simple" (parts of plants that were used for the production of medicines). In fact, after careful consultation of the sources of historical documentation, has been clearly demonstrated the existence, in the area of medieval Salerno, of a herb garden, established in the first two decades of the 1300s by the physician and botanist Salerno Matteo Silvatico, to serve the masters of the Medical School. In this space of extraordinary cultural value, were cultivated the plants from which were obtained the active ingredients used for therapeutic purposes; furthermore, in this place there was a real turning point teaching to show the students of the Medical School of the plants with their names and their characteristics (Ostensio simplicium). These assumptions confirm that the garden, located in the ancient site of hortus sanitatis School of Medicine, can be considered the oldest botanical garden linked to a medical school.