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In the south of Italy not far from Naples you will find the large, ornate palace of Caserta. Don’t expect a long drive up to the gate of this palace though as it’s in the middle of the city of Caserta. This famous palace was built for the Bourbon King of Naples..
A bit of History:
Who were the Bourbons? Like most royal family history- it’s quite complicated and it’s easy to get confused. Here’s a very simplified history, so my apologies for history buffs: The Bourbons were a royal family that were originally French. Through marriage they became the royals of Spain and the French and Spanish lines became separated. The Bourbons kings of Caserta were from Spain. Charles of Bourbon became King Charles VII of Naples as well as of Sicily.
During his time as king he constructed the ornate palaces of Reggia di Capodimonte and this beautiful palace- Reggia di Caserta. When his brother, the King of Spain, died, he became the King of Spain (Charles III of Spain) and his son, Ferdinand IV of Naples, became King of Naples and Sicily (Kingdom of the two Sicilies).
While Charles was the one who started the Palace of Caserta it wasn’t finished until his son was already king. The palace was modeled to be grand like Versailles as it was meant to be the home of the king as well as the location of the court and government. The palace is expansive and full of stone staircases and ornate chandeliers. It’s incredible and our kids enjoyed our day here.
The gardens are enormous as well-- they are roughly three km long! Luckily, the palace offers a variety of ways to enjoy them; you can walk, take a minibus, a horsedrawn carriage, or you can rent a bicycle. If you are thinking of renting a bicycle go here for the palace’s webpage on bike rental.
Keeping in mind the climate, in the middle of summer the gardens will not look as amazing as they will in spring or the beginning of summer. However, no matter what time of the year they will always look super impressive. The man-made waterfall that falls in line with the pools is incredible. There is also an English style garden complete with “ruins” as it was made to look like an ancient garden.
If all the pictures of the palace are looking a little familiar, it’s probably because it was included in Star Wars (Attack of the Clones & The Phantom Menace) as well as Mission Impossible 3. For a video of Star Wars at the Palace - click here and for clips for all the movies filmed at Reggia di Caserta click here.
There is a small cafe within the palace for food and drinks and it was tastier than we had expected. That said, just outside the palace you are surrounded by the city of Caserta and there are plenty of other food options.
If you look online you’ll see a lot of complaints regarding the lack of sufficient facilities. However, recent changes at the Palace means they have tried to address this by adding new toilets, but like many places around Europe, you will have to pay around .50 to use them.
Babies & Toddlers-
Reggia di Caserta was one of the first museums in Italy to implement a Baby Pit-Stop which is an area dedicated to lactating mums and their babies. The area also has a baby change table. This UNICEF initiative is part of the Palace’s aim to be accessible to everyone. The Baby Pit-Stop is located within the royal apartments. If you want to see photos of it, here’s a blogpost by one Italian mum’s happy surprise when she discovered the room.
There aren’t any elevators/lifts, so if your child must be in a pram those amazing staircases may soon become very annoying. There is a free luggage room that you may be able to check your pram into though.
We had an amazing day enjoying this grand Italian palace, so if you are visiting Naples and Pompeii, then make time for this Italian treasure.
For more palaces, nearby are the Reggia di Capodimonte and the Royal Palace of Naples.
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