The Caserta Money Shot
The Reggia di Caserta (reggia means palace in Italian) is a palace and gardens that was the seat of the Bourbon kings of the Italy. Caserta is located about 20 miles north of Naples. In its nomination as a UNESCO site the following description is used: “[t]he Royal Palace, the crowning achievement of Luigi Vanvitelli, anticipated the external appearance of 18th century buildings whilst at the same time representing the swan song of the spectacular art of the Baroque, from which it adopted all the features needed to create the illusions of multidirectional space.” (ref)
Why was this palace built? In 1734, Charles III (1716 - 1788) had just become King of Naples and he wanted to “build a new royal palace, to rival, and perhaps outdo, the palace of Versailles, as the symbol of the new kingdom.” (ref). Furthermore locating the palace far from Naples avoided any potential problems from Vesuvius as well as lessened threats from the sea. The architect entrusted with the project was Luigi Vanvitelli (1700 – 1773) and the first stone was laid in 1752. The palace and grounds construction continued as Charles went back to Spain to assume the role of King of Spain and left his third son Ferdinand I (1751 – 1825) in charge.
The park behind the palace was also planned by Vanvitelli but completed by his son Carlo. It included fish ponds and a royal silk factory. Water was needed to keep the ponds, factory, and surrounding communities functioning so an aqueduct system brought water from the Fizzo spring over 38 km away – in a structure called the Aquedotto Carolino. Two things we didn’t do were to see part of the aquedotto or go to the Royal Silk Factory. Che peccato! The walk up the axis from the palace to the end of the garden (several kilometers), a tour of the English garden, a leisurely walk back, lunch, and a tour of the palace took up our day. We really needed a second day in Caserta.
Caserta Under Ominous Skies
Looking Up the Main Axis of the Garden
Looking Down on the Aeolus Fountain
Face in the Fountain Wall
English Garden Layout
English Garden - Venus Bathing
English Garden - Faux Ruins
Corridor in the Palace
Reggia di Caserta Brochure