The Royal Palace at Caserta (Reggia di Caserta) had been on my list for a while. Just a short journey north of Naples, yet I’d never managed to get there. At at the very end of our last trip we had one day where we could fit it in, and so off we went.
It was a lovely sunny Sunday, which also happened to be the first Sunday of the month.
Big mistake. HUGE.
Because you see the first Sunday of the month in Italy is the day when many cultural attractions are free. We arrived late morning after checking into our B&B in Casertavecchia and were confronted with an enormous queue outside the palace gates. We waited, and waited.
Occasionally the queue would surge forward to cheers from the crowd, and then it would stop, dead still. People in the crowd were fairly cheerful though, so we didn’t worry too much. I amused myself by bartering with vendors and managed to snag quite a bargain on a book about the palace. An hour passed and not knowing what was going on, we were really becoming quite fractious, and ready to throw in the whole plan. Except that I really wanted to see it, and it’s a UNESCO world heritage site, so I stayed in line and attempted to converse with some locals who filled me in on what was going on. We could have gone to the front of the queue for tickets to the palace – but we’d miss out on the gardens (the bit I was really interested in) and so we waited some more and were eventually let in, thank God, mere minutes before heat stroke set in.
Our first view of the palace from the backOnce through, I saw the view I’d been wanting (and waiting) to see. The four kilometre long garden! Magnificent! Built in the 18th century, the palace and gardens were modelled on Versailles (and we all know how good that is!).Next decision: how to get to the end. You have four options:
- hire a bike (I am regrettably scared of bike riding)
- hire a horse and carriage for 50 Euro (no thanks)
- get on a minibus (one just left, no more in sight)
- use your feet and walk
However along the way you find plenty to amuse you …And at the end you find the cascades, which you can walk up (guess what we didn’t do?)And the English garden, where’ll you’ll find everything bar the plants in a lovely state of decayAfter wandering around the English garden we were in no mood to walk the four kilometres back to the palace. We placed ourselves in a strategic position for the minibus, and waited, and waited.
Our companions while we waited for a lift back to the palace..Getting into/onto anything in Italy (especially Southern Italy) is a sport, and the only one I’m good at. Although Anglo-Aussie, I’m an expert in pushiness, elbow wielding and maintaining my place in the queue – and so we got onto the minibus at last, even if I did have to drag Mr Travelling Pantaloni over several nonne (grandmas) to get on with me.
We came for the gardens, but unexpectedly the palace was the real highlight for me. I’d read complaints on TripAdvisor about how poorly maintained the palace is, but honestly I quite like a bit of faded grandeur and glory. I think you have to, to enjoy southern Italy.
Let’s take a look around…
The entrance staircaseA couple of beautiful ceilingsThe chapelSome beautiful rooms with incredible detailsA royal bedAnd a presepe (Christmas nativity scene). You can read more about these here.I hope you enjoyed your trip to Reggia di Caserta! For more information look here or here. And to read about where we stayed while visiting the palace, have a look here.
Until next time, happy travels,
The Travelling Pantaloni