You can spend a morning visiting the Reggia. Built by Luigi Vanvitelli in the 18th century at the behest of Charles III Bourbon and also known as ‘the Versailles of Italy’, in 1997, the Royal Palace, together with the Royal Belvedere of San Leucio, was designated a Unesco world heritage site. Extending over a surface area of 61,000 square metres, the complex boasts seven floors, two of which are underground, around 1,200 rooms given over to chapels, ceremonial rooms and theatres (the Teatro di Corte is a reduced-scale reproduction of Teatro San Carlo in Naples) and a wealth of treasures, including marbles and frescoes, housed in the royal rooms. The Reggia can be visited daily, except on Tuesdays, from 8.30am to 7.30pm (last admission at 7pm) and, depending on the amount of time available and specific interests, visitors can choose from among one of the four routes available. Two of these are only accessible subject to reservation, therefore, before heading to the complex, we strongly recommend that you contact the ticket office to make advance bookings (T: 0823448084).
A more or less complete visit of the whole complex lasts for three hours, including a tour through the gardens surrounding the Palace: covering about 120 hectares and proclaimed the most beautiful historical gardens in Italy in 2010, they are a great place to recharge your batteries, hire a bike, or, alternatively, hop on the shuttle bus offering tours of the park. Conversely, if you happen to be a serious walker, you can explore the park on foot. The park stretches from the palace to the nearby hills along a central path 3km long, graced by a number of fountains, pools, and gardens adorned with sculptures. One of the hallmark features of the park is its so-called ‘English garden’, consisting of beautifully-spaced pathways embellished by small lakes decorated with statues and archaeological ruins.
After a morning spent admiring the marvels of the Reggia, we recommend a break for lunch in the medieval town of Casertavecchia. Standing at an altitude of 400 metres, the town offers a number of small picturesque restaurants with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. After savouring the area’s local specialities, make sure to explore its charming winding alleyways.
In the afternoon, head to San Leucio and its spectacular Belvedere housing one of the first and most advanced silk mills in Italy commissioned by Ferdinand IV Bourbon. Here you can admire beautifully restored period machinery, including magnificent wooden looms still used today and in perfect working order.
How to get there:
By car: Autostrada A30, Caserta Sud exit
By train: www.trenitalia.it the station is a 5-minute walk from the Reggia
Where is it?