Salerno is Capital of the Salerno district (province), and today numbers around 145,000 inhabitants. For a brief period (February to August 1944) Salerno was the capital city of Italy, during the liberation after the allied landings before the fall of Monte Cassino to the allies and the subsequent liberation of Rome. Today it is a lively port and commercial town, with a very attractive city centre, a vibrant night life and very good shopping routes. Worth a visit also is the Historical Old Town, which has in recent years recovered from being a virtual no-go area to being one of the best preserved historical town centers, full of tiny little passageways and hidden corners: not to be missed a visit to the mediaeval Arechi Castle - which nowadays still overlooks the city - and the Mediaeval St Matthew Cathedral. Salerno was the birthplace of the "Schola Medica Salernitana" in the ninth century, which was the most important source of medical information in Europe at the time, and provided an important impulse to medical learning in Europe. For this reason Salerno is also known as "Hippocratica Civitas". Salerno's Verdi Theatre is also very well known for its opera and ballet season which attracts art lovers for all over the world. A very good period to visit the city is mid November - mid January, when the exhibition "Luci d'artista" takes place all over the city: from the old historic centre to the Villa Comunale Gardens, to the shopping streets, there will be different spectacular lights with a unique theme, which changes every year.