I find it fascinating how connected the royal and ruling families of Europe were. At Schonbrunn we were reminded that Marie Antoinette’s mother was Empress Maria Theresia of Austria and today at the Caserta Palace we see how each ruler tried to outdo each other in their palaces.
The Caserta Palace was created by the Bourbon king Charles III in the mid-18th century. His goal was to rival the Palace at Versailles and the Royal Palace in Madrid. As for the inside of the palace I believe he succeeded. This is a magnificent very stately palace and is very tastefully built with 1200 rooms. I think the most impressive part of the palace is the entryway of 116 steps all carved from one giant block of stone. The gardens however, though immense are not as beautiful as Versailles but are still magnificent with a huge waterfall about 2 miles from the main palace feeding into a fountain of Diana and Acteaon. It then flows into the dolphin fountain, down through the “fish pond”, which is where mock sea battles were performed for the royal court. The Bosco Vecchio is where it all ends up and was built as the “little castle” and a playhouse for the Bourbon princes.
We drove to Caserta although you could take a 45-minute train from Naples central station. It is mostly visited by Italian tourists and isn’t on most Americans list, but it is a must see if you are in the Naples area. Make sure you visit however during the week, as the weekend gets very busy. They offer special pricing for students who are from the European Union countries only but when asked they gave us the discount as well. Make sure you have your walking shoes on if you are going to walk the gardens, but for those of you who are unable to travel the distance by foot they have shuttle busses that only cost 1 Euro per person. I recommend walking up and riding back as you will gain a greater appreciation of how expansive these gardens are.