Caserta is a small centre, boasting a rich heritage of artistic, architectural and historical treasures. Where has selected a pick of its most noteworthy landmark attractions that should be visited at least once in a lifetime.
The Reggia of Caserta
A visit to this magnificent royal residence, second only to the splendours of Versailles, starts with the Royal Palace, whose construction, entrusted to Neapolitan architect Luigi Vanvitelli, was commissioned by Carlo III Bourbon. The Palace boasts as many as 1,200 rooms, all decorated according to the style of the era. A large staircase adorned with two lions, sculpted in Carrara marble, alludes to the grandeur of the kingdom and leads to the first floor, to the eight Royal Apartments, featuring vaults decorated with stunning frescoes and to the Palatine Library and the Palatine Chapel, embellished with sixteen Corinthian marble columns. There are lots of rooms worth visiting: from the horseshoe-shaped Teatro di Corte (Court Theatre) to the Sala Ellittica (Oval Hall) which is painted in white and contains the magnificent Bourbon manager scene.
Back on the ground floor at the end of the main gallery, you come out onto the Reggia's magnificent park: a masterpiece of nature, it extends over more than 100 hectares and is adorned with fountains and pools. The most evocative area of the park is the beautiful English Garden created for Queen Maria Carolina, the wife of Ferdinand IV: exotic plants, hot houses, small woods, intricate pathways and a small temple with ancient Roman statues taken from the ruins of Pompeii combine to make it a totally unique place.
Inside, a separate pathway leads to the Bagno di Venere, where a statue of Venus shows the goddess shyly preparing to take a bath near the small fountain. The Reggia is open daily, except on Tuesdays, from 8.30am to 4.30pm. T: 0823448084. Entrance to Palace and park: € 12.
The Belvedere of San Leucio
Just a few kilometers from the Royal Palace of Caserta, visitors will find a unique example of an illuminist-inspired imperial utopia, a ground breaking project conceived by King Ferdinand IV who created an independent community called Ferdinandopoli. The King promoted the production and manufacture of silk by sending youngsters from the area to train and learn the art of silk making in France in order to subsequently work in the royal factories. In 1778, he founded the Royal Colony of San Leucio based on a separate code of laws.
In addition to a beautiful Italianate garden, a tour of the site includes a visit to the Royal Apartments. From the terrace of the Belvedere, visitors can enjoy a splendid view that stretches as far as Vesuvius, and on clear days, it is even possible to catch a glimpse of Ischia and Capri. The complex also houses the Silk Museum which contains the original tools used to weave silk in the 17th century. The silks produced here are still purchased by illustrious clients from all over the world, including the White House, the Quirinale and Buckingham Palace. The museum can be visited daily, except on Tuesdays, subject to reservation (T: 800411515 – 0823273151). Entrance € 6.
The medieval fortress town of Casertavecchia is situated at a distance of some ten km from the city. its terraces, scattered here and there, offer a panoramic view over the city, including Vanvitelli’s Reggia, Vesuvius and the islands of the Gulf. Scattered throughout the town’s narrow medieval streets are craft shops and numerous small restaurants specializing in typical cuisine. Take an evocative trip back through time. You’ll be delighted by the heady aromas of nature and the wood burning ovens found in its houses. Dominated by a castle that is today in ruins, the village is built around the cathedral, a fine example of Norman-Arab architectural style built in 1100. Dedicated to St. Michael The Archangel, the Duomo boasts three naves. Elegant yet simple, it is a favourite destination for brides who choose it to say “I do” on their big day.
How to get there
By train: Caserta railway station
By plane: Capodichino Airport (Naples) situated at a distance of 24 km
Where is it?