Reggia di Caserta


Reggia di Caserta

The palace known as the Reggia shows how Bourbon royals lived in the mid-18th century. Architect Luigi Vanvitelli devoted 20 years to its construction under Bourbon ruler Charles III, whose son, Ferdinand IV (1751–1825), moved in when it was completed in 1774. Both king and architect were inspired by Versailles, and the rectangular palace was conceived on a massive scale, with four interconnecting courtyards, 1,200 rooms, and a vast park. Though the palace is not as well maintained as its French counterpart, the main staircase puts the one at Versailles to shame, and the royal apartments are sumptuous. It was here, in what Eisenhower called "a castle near Naples," that the Allied High Command had its headquarters in World War II, and here that German forces in Italy surrendered in April 1945. There's a museum of items relating to the palace and the region. Most enjoyable are the gardens and parks, particularly the Cascades, adorned with sculptures of the goddess Diana and her maidens, and the landscaped English Garden at the far end. A shuttle bus will help you cover the 3-km (2-mile) path from the palace to the end of the gardens. You can also rent a bicycle just inside the park. Take the frequent—but slow—train service from Stazione Centrale. The palace is just across from the station. By car, leave the Naples-Caserta motorway at Caserta Sud and follow signs to the Reggia. Park in the underground lot opposite the palace.


Ready for a trip of a lifetime to Naples?