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What to see in Caserta beyond the Royal Palace

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Ever wondered what else to see in Caserta beyond the Royal Palace? Keep reading, you might be surprised by what the town has in store.

Ever wondered what else there is to see in Caserta beyond the Royal Palace? Keep reading, you might be surprised by what the town has in store…

There’s no doubt that the royal palace is what made Caserta famous internationally. Yet too often, it’s all you read about the town in guidebooks and tourist itineraries.

The truth is, there are a few historical landmarks sprinkled around town that hide fascinating stories and are well worth visiting. For example, did you know that the White House and Buckingham Palace flags come from the silk factories of Caserta? Or that the town’s historic heart is a medieval gem that sits on a hill?

Below I’m sharing all the beautiful things you can see in Caserta. It’s an easy day trip from Naples – and one of the top places on everyone’s Italy bucket list – although there’s more than enough to see to spend a couple of days around.

At the bottom of the page you’ll also find a handy map featuring all the places I mention in this article.

The Royal Palace of Caserta

The Royal Palace is literally the first thing you see as soon as you step out of the train station.

What makes this place so impressive is its size. With its 1,200 rooms spread over more than 44,000 square meters and 120 hectares of gardens, it’s one of the biggest residencies in the world.

The palace is also a magnificent symbol of baroque architecture and royal power, revealing a lot about Italian history.

In the 18th century, Naples’ King Charles III of Bourbon hired archistar Luigi Vanvitelli to build the palace with the goal of creating something that could rival Europe’s most famous royal residences, including Versailles.

With construction works that lasted more than 50 years and costed over 6 million ducats (today’s equivalent of more than 300 billion euros), today the royal palace is the symbol of Caserta and one of Italy’s top landmarks.

the grand marble staircase inside the royal palace of casertaYou’ll likely need a whole day to explore all of it: the grandiose historic apartments, the park and the English gardens with the fascinating Bagno di Venere.

As a king, Charles was truly enlightened, having promoted several projects that turned Naples into a key destination of any Grand Tour, including building the San Carlo Theatre (the world’s first opera house) and commissioning the first excavations in Pompeii and Hercolaneum.

Following the creation of the Caserta palace, a period of extraordinary territorial valorisation began around town, which led to some truly innovative projects you can still see today.

>>> Info and tickets: Royal Palace of Caserta official website

The royal silk factory at San Leucio

San Leucio, located on the hills about 4 km from the train station, is one of the most fascinating things to see in Caserta.

There, Ferdinand IV, the son of Charles III, turned a royal hunting lodge into an important silk factory and pursued his dream of creating an autonomous industrial village – the utopian “Ferdinandopoli” – inspired by enlightened socialism.

He called the best Italian and French weavers to introduce locals to the art of weaving. Workers at the royal factory got a house in the village and enjoyed gender equality, meritocracy, public education, and healthcare – something incredibly modern for the time.

The factory of Borgo San Leucio covered the entire production chain, from silkworm breeding to the finished fabric. Its silks became famous all over Europe, with orders from all the major courts.

original waving machines in the old silk factory of san leucio in casertaFerdinand’s dream inevitably came to an end but silk is still made in the region thanks to local artisans. And guess what? Clients include Buckingham Palace and the White House!

The entry ticket includes a fascinating guided tour of the silk manufacturing facilities (with many original machines) and the royal residence – be sure to see Maria Carolina’s impressive bathroom.

While there, you’ll also see the perfectly preserved houses where the silk factory workers used to live (still inhabited today), plus a belvedere with incredible views of the area.

>>> Info and tickets: Real Borgo San Leucio official website

The Caroline Aqueduct

As you can imagine, the royal silk factory and the gardens of the Caserta palace needed large amounts of water every day. And how did they get it? Well, the Bourbons once again had everything covered.

The mastermind behind the project was Mr. Vanvitelli (I told you he was a superstar). He built a 40 km-long aqueduct to transport water from the slopes of Mount Taburno to Caserta.

The aqueduct, which resembles those used in ancient Rome, was immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece of hydraulic engineering. It was also the longest bridge in Europe at the time.

Most of this engineering marvel runs underground. However, you can see a section of it by driving through the SS 265 for about 8 km from Caserta Sud to Maddaloni, Valle di Maddaloni.

You’ll find yourself in front of a glorious structure with three rows of arches rising 60 meters high. A sight to see for sure!

The old hilltop village of Casertavecchia

Hop on one of the minibuses parked outside the train station and go to Casertavecchia (Old Caserta), a pretty, medieval village up in the hills, around 10 km from Caserta.

Casertavecchia used to be the main urban center of Caserta. Then with the construction of the palace, locals moved to the plain below and Caserta as we know it today became the focal point of all activities.

Today, it’s a restful respite from the city, with panoramic views and enchanting cobblestone alleys filled with artisan shops and traditional eateries.

In the central square, you’ll find the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, an elegant tuff building. Legend has it that the fairies of the Tifatini Mountains brought the columns of the church up here.

On the highest point of Casertavecchia stand the remains of a castle dating from 861, which different dynasties called home throughout the centuries. It’s said to be haunted by the ghost of Countess Siffridina.

If you come in September, you’ll likely see the “Settembre al Borgo” festival with lots of concerts, performances, and exhibitions.

Other things to see in Caserta beyond the royal palace

If stars and constellations are your thing, do check out the Planetarium of Caserta. It’s one of the few fully-digital planetariums in Italy and offers some interesting shows with live narration.

In town there is also the Michelangelo Museum, which displays objects and models related to science and technology. It’s currently closed, though.

Lastly, Caserta is home to a war cemetery dedicated to those who fell during WWII. You may not know this, but Caserta was the location of a military hospital. Also, the Royal Palace served as the headquarters for the British and American troops and is where the surrender of German forces in Italy was signed.

How to travel from Naples to Caserta

There are regular trains departing from Naples central station and arriving in Caserta in just 40 minutes (€3.40 one way). Check out the Trenitalia website for timetables and fares.

If you are travelling by car, you can use the “Parcheggio Giordano” parking, just a quick stroll from the palace (1.50€/h or 10€ for the day). It also offers a bike rental service.

As you can see, there’s quite a lot to explore in Caserta beyond the royal palace. Have you ever been?

Pssst… Pin this article for future reference and get in touch if you have any questions about visiting Caserta!

Ciao for now,

Grazie mille for reading My Italian Diaries!

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