Dreams of kings in Terra di Lavoro: the Reggia di Caserta, wanted by Charles III of Bourbon to emulate Versailles and the Real Setificio of San Leucio, where Ferdinand I made his “Ferdinandopoli”, an excellence manufacture centre.
If you are going to spend a couple of days in Caserta, do not miss these two architectural jewels. The Allies during WWII chose the Reggia, designed by Vanvitelli, as their headquarters, Garibaldi went to live there after conquering Naples, and many movies have been set in its wide park.
Into San Leucio complex, preserved by Unesco, have been produced unique curtains, wall hangings, and brocades adorning today Vatican and Quirinale rooms.
With the building of Reggia di Caserta, the future king of Spain Charles III wanted to transfer the main administrative structures of the reign there. That is why he chose the architect Vanvitelli for the ambitious project: the building of a palace similar to Versailles. Reggia di Caserta, protected by Unesco, is a residential complex which covers an area of 2.5 km, one of the biggest in the whole Europe.
The first stone was placed on the 20th January 1752 and it is depicted in a fresco Gennaro Maldarelli, today in the Throne Room. Unfortunately this masterpiece is incomplete: Vanvitelli died in 1773, leaving the testimony to his son, and in 1795 Charles III was made king of Spain, thus leaving Naples for Madrid. The palace was officially completed in 1780.
The royal palace has 1.200 richly decorated rooms. Its park is one of the greatest of the world, with fountains, sculptures, ponds, an English garden, a lake, and the impressive Great Waterfall. (another article will follow)