Royal Palace of Caserta and Caserta Vecchia
The large flat expanse of Caserta is home to one of the most famous and visited monuments of the Campania region: the Reggia di Caserta, a must for those who want to know in depth the Neapolitan culture of the eighteenth century. The majestic complex is located in the western part of the city of Caserta, on the huge Piazza Carlo III.
The Reggia di Caserta was built at the request of King Charles of Bourbon who entrusted the task to the architect Luigi Vanvitelli, with the aim of competing with the great residences of the sovereigns of Europe, in particular with Versailles.
The work began in 1751 and lasted for about twenty years, interrupted only in 1764 because of the departure of King Charles to occupy the return of Spain and because of an epidemic. After the death of Luigi Vanvitelli, the works continued under the direction of his son, Carlo, who revisited the original project due to lack of funds.
The huge house comprises four courtyards and thousands of rooms, including chapels, museums, theatres. The park of 120 hectares is covered by avenues and rich of fountains that find their completeness in the great waterfall that plunges with a jump of 78 meters between wooded backs.
The palace has 1200 rooms, 34 stairs, 1742 windows and has a façade built of bricks, travertine and marbles from southern Italy.
Access to the Royal apartments takes place through the majestic grand staircase, of 116 steps, leading to the upper vestibule, intensely lit by four windows open on the courtyards. From here you can also reach the Palatine chapel, a rectangular room with barrel vaults adorned with gilded drawers and rosettes.
To the left of the chapel are opened the Royal apartments, furnished with furniture and furnishings from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, decorated with marbles and paintings by artists, carvers and cabinet that knew how to elegantly translate the signs of culture Of the time, reaching an artistic level among the highest in Italy. There are several halls in the route: the Sala degli Alabardieri, the hall of the bodyguards, the Hall of Alexander, the Hall of Mars, the Hall of Astrea, the Throne Room (the largest), until reaching the apartment of the king that was placed in the last years of Kingdom of Murat. Here there are the boardroom, the living room, the bedroom and the bathroom of Francesco II. It continues with the so-called Murattiano apartment for the presence of many furnishings and furniture belonging to Gioacchino Murat, as well as several paintings from the French and later times.
King Ferdinand IV lived in what is called the old apartment, a magnificent suite of rooms in white and gold with precious upholstery with fabrics produced by the nearby manufactory of San Leucio. Here we find: The Hall of Spring, where the receptions took place; The summer Lounge, the autumn room, the winter room, the studio of Ferdinand IV, the living room and the bedroom of the king, the working room, the toilet, the reception room and the reading rooms of the Queen. It follows the elliptical room where the large royal crib is located with shepherds from ' 700 and 800.
In the only part of the palace completed by Luigi Vanvitelli, there is the Court theatre, with Horseshoe plant, five orders of boxes and cladding in pink and alabaster stone.
A wing of the building houses the museum of the Opera or Vanvitelliano museum that collects sketches, plants and drawings and models of the palace by Luigi Vanvitelli.
The park of the Reggia reflects the sumptuousness and grandeur of the palace, with 120 hectares of avenues, meadows, fountains with refined water games and a central avenue of about 3 kilometers that culminates in the great waterfall, called Fontana di Diana, whose sides are two Bleachers ascending towards a cave from which the water of the caving aqueduct was bursting, also designed by Luigi Vanvitelli.
In the park there is also an English garden, intended by Queen Maria Carolina of Austria, rich in exotic and rare plants, embellished by greenhouses, groves and avenues.
One of the best preserved medieval villages in Italy that rises on the slopes of the Monti Tifatini about 401 meters high and 10 km far northeast from Caserta. The origins of the country still today are uncertain, but according to the writings, dating back to the year 861, of the Benedictine monk Erchempert, one speaks about a first urban nucleus, in the mountains called Casahirta (from the Latin "village placed at the top").
The village originally built on a pre-existing Roman village, over the years has undergone various dominations.
Originally belonged to the Lombards; In the 9th century following Saracen raids and ravages of Capua, the inhabitants and the clergy saw themselves forced to seek refuge in safer places, such as the mountainous ones. In 1062 Casertavecchia was occupied by Riccardo I of Aversa, and from here began the Norman domination that brought the country to its maximum splendour in the year 1100-1129 with the construction of the cathedral under the episcopate of Ranulf, and its consecration In the year 1153 to the cult of St. Michael the Archangel.
In 1442 the village passes under the Aragonese domination and from this moment Casertavecchia sees slowly decaying its importance, because of the commercial activities that flourished in the plain. In 1842 Pope Gregory XVI sanctioned the definitive amalgamation of new Caserta.
Following the domination of the Bourbons in southern Italy and the construction of the palace, the new centre of every activity becomes Caserta.
Cobbled streets, ancient churches, noble palaces, the lively presence of ancient traditions, make the visit to Casertavecchia very suggestive giving the sensation of going back in time. At the center of the town is the bishopric square on which overlook the Cathedral of St. Michael, a magnificent example of Arab-Norman architecture, the episcopal palace, the seminary and the House rectory.