Back to getting caught up on my blog posts: so I last left off with Sandra and Vyse leaving us and heading for Paris while the kids had just joined us in Naples.
The next day we made a last-minute decision to hop on the train and head to Caserta to visit the Royal Palace. It was about an hour train ride out of Naples, a scenic, relatively quiet and relaxing journey. We had left a bit late in the day so we were on a rushed tour but in retrospect we would have planned to spend a whole day here as it was astounding!
Click on the photo below to open a video and tour the Palace with us, then read on for some background on this impressive place.
Our main motivation was wanting to see the palace because of its reputation as the filming location for Star Wars, the setting of Queen Amidala’s Royal Palace of Naboo for the 1999 film. It has also been a popular location for many other films due to its unique grandeur and relatively quiet location. Originally it was constructed as a former residence for the Bourbon Kings of Naples and is one of the largest palaces built in Europe during the 18th Century. It’s Baroque grandeur and unfathomable size (by volume it’s the largest royal residence in the world) has it rivaling Versailles but unfortunately it isn’t kept to the same extent although being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I can’t imagine what the cost would be to properly maintain the entirety of these enormous buildings, expansive lands and gardens however it is still a beauty.
Arriving at the Caserta train station you can see it unassumingly across the parking lot and as you get closer you notice the remnants of past manicured hedges that have since overgrown and filled with weeds. A gravel road leads you up to the front entrance, all very informal until you walk through the front gates!
Entering the palace, you make your way through a pillared arcade and are instantly awestruck by the grandness surrounding you, not knowing which way to look as you try to take it all in.
Then you walk into the central promenade encircled by marvelous sculptures that lead you towards the grand staircase and highlight of the Palace. Miles and Miles of amazing marble placed in intricate designs on a massive staircase of which you can’t believe takes your breath away and makes you feel of importance just by being here.
Then you continue through more than 40 monumental rooms impressively decorated head to toe with frescoes, many of them filled with antique furnishings.
The palace encompasses 5 floors and 1,200 rooms, over two dozen of them are state apartments and includes a large library, a theatre and room dedicated to the most amazing series of Presepes (Italian Nativity figurines and displays). We rushed through trying to get it all in before closing on our late arrival.
Then we headed out back and entered the most enormous park and gardens with only 45 minutes left to close. The kids and I decided to quickly rent bikes and peddled like maniacs to see as much as we could of the 120 ha stretch to the back of the grounds.
We only made it to the end of the gardens without the time to explore the other areas flanking the park and here is were I’d like to have spent the day with a lovely picnic. The layout is similar to Versailles with an enormous aqueduct that supplies its impressive fountains, falls and ponds, a photographer’s dreamland.
This Palace was a real highlight for me and if you are ever in Naples it’s a great break away from the chaotic city and well worth a visit. If you want to see the rest of our pics, here is a link to the Caserta photo gallery.