Day 358: Royal Palace of CasertaFebruary 7 in Italy
Weather looking slightly better today - partly cloudy but with thunderstorms forecast, so we headed out the door. My charger had moved from Leipzig overnight to Bergamo near Milan, and then on to Naples around 11am where it was "with driver". Hopefully he wouldn't arrive while we were out!
Today's destination was the Royal Palace at Caserta, the largest palace in Europe and probably the ultimate expression of Baroque architecture. Built in 1752 by the Bourbon kings, it was considered a better option than the palace in Naples since that's right on the shoreline and thus very vulnerable to attacks.
The train ride was about 40 minutes to the north and we arrived in good time. The palace was unmissable - right at the station and of incredible size. It's rectangular in shape, the long sides are 250 metres and the "shorter" sides are about 200 metres. Plus it's five floors tall, making for 2.5 million cubic metres of volume - insane. It's styled very much like Versailles, and was specifically designed to be "similar, but better" - proving in a twisted way how much better and wealthier the King of Naples was than the King of France. Go figure.
The gardens here are immense as well, but we decided to tackle the inside first. Although there's 1200 rooms in the building, about 75 are open to the public and very lavishly decorated. It's difficult to get a handle on how original they are though, since it was redecorated in the 1810s by Joachim Murat, Napoleon's lieutenant and later brother-in-law who was crowned King of Naples by the little emperor.
We spent an hour or so going through the rooms: bedrooms, libraries, sitting rooms, a throne room, reception rooms, relaxation rooms, studies and so on. As nice as they are, I get quite fatigued fairly quickly with these things. I think unless you're a real student of the interior decorating styles, they just get very samey very quickly.
Disappointed to find that both theatres in the building (yes, there's two) were only open on Sunday afternoons during the winter. Would've been nice to mention that somewhere, but hey - Italy.
The gardens are on an enormous scale - the main axis is three kilometres long and stretches out in a direct line with fountains, basins, pools and canals. There's even a shuttle bus that takes you to the far end! I decided to skip on the bus since it wasn't leaving for 15 minutes and cost 5 euros, which we'd later regret.
Started walking up the canal, admiring the fountains and landscaping work, but as we were walking a thunderstorm started brewing in the distance. Given that it was three kilometres long, we were kind of trapped! The main cell of the storm passed westwards of us, but plenty of rain dropped on us, and despite our umbrellas we both got pretty wet.
Just missed hopping on the shuttle at the far end as I wanted to film my wrap-up monologue, so we walked the three kilometres back in the rain as well. Shandos was extremely unimpressed, and we ended up missing the train we'd hoped to get as well, so we had to wait another 30 minutes at the station in semi-wet clothes. And of course, the later train was much slower too.
It was a pretty quiet ride back, let me tell you! Home by around 3pm, we reunited with Schnitzel and then just hung around at home. No sign of a courier having been, so I settled in to wait. He eventually showed up around 6pm, so I plugged my laptop in and all was right with the world again. Blows my mind that it got here in just under 48 hours having gone through five major cities!Read more