Largest royal residence in the world in terms of volume
A radical change of plans for today. While everything was planned for visiting Capri, the weather was not really the best, very cloudy with frequent showers; definitely not what I would expect when going to Capri, that I want to see with sun, the blue Mediterranean and the Vesubious and Naples in the distance. Nothing of which we could have seen and enjoy today due to the dark clouds. Instead and in the very last second we had to get a Plan B. I did a quick research and came up with a great idea! All it took me was a search in Google for UNESCO sites near Naples and there it came: The 18th century Royal Palace at Caserta with the Park, the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli and the San Leucio Complex.
Then the day was planned. 3 small and easy sites to visit completing another World Heritage Site listing in its full. From Naples was matter of few minutes’ drive to the Royal Palace of Caserta, hence could not be easier. By volume, the palace is the largest Royal Residence in the world, built for the Bourbon Kings of Naples and Sicily, dependent of the Spanish Crown of Aragon. Then, not far to the northwest of the palace is the Belvedere of San Leucio; a resort developed around an old silk factory built from 1750 by Charles VII of Naples and his son Ferdinand I. Connecting everything together was a great water system, mostly underground, with a section, the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli the masterpiece of the engineering work. A perfect example following the tradition of the ancient Roman aqueducts put in practice in 1762.
It took us less than half a day to visit the three sites plus having plenty of time for getting nice cakes with coffee and a great relaxed lunch. Do not overestimate the time you will need to visit the area, either if you come on your own, or on an organised tour, the later will be even faster in completing the tour.
For more information about these places check the Wikipedia sites for Caserta, San Leucio and the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli. Italy’s currency is the Euro. Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
How to get there
Caserta at 35 kilometres from Naples is somewhat off the usual path from the hordes of tourists. At the exception of the Royal Palace where there are many tourists from around the world, the Belvedere and Aqueduct are visited instead by organised groups coming by bus on day tours, yet mostly Italians. You can easily get on a day tour to visit the three places, or you can do on your own if you have your own transport.
The city lies in the major rail/road link between Rome and Naples, hence extremely easy to reach by train, bus or car in matter of just minutes. From elsewhere in Italy, trains to Naples might involve a change in between, but along the trunk Milan–Rome-Naples, the route is served by high-speed comfortable trains. However it will not make sense at all if you are planning to travel from the north of Italy all the way south for reaching this place. The best would be taking an internal flight, out of question.
The Belvedere is northwest of the Royal Palace, and although it is possible to reach on foot, it is quite far so bear it in mind. There are local buses serving the city and pass through the entrance of San Leucio as we could see. However since we came by car I cannot give you any further information on which bus number or route.
The Aqueduct is 12 kilometres east of Caserta, and the only way to reach is on an organised tour or your own transport, or getting a taxi and getting him to wait for you.
Entrance fees and opening hours
The Royal Palace of Caserta is opened through the day from 8.30am until 19.30pm, no need to pre-book tickets. The entrance is 14 Euros. Reduced for students and senior, free of charge for students of History of Art no matter on age.
San Leucio Belvedere opens at certain fixed times only, varying during the year season but are around 9.30, 13.30, 15.30 and 17.00pm. Tickets costs 6 Euros, reduced for students and senior, free of charge for students of History of Art no matter on age.
No times nor entrance fee applies for the case of the Aqueduct.
What to see and do in Caserta and nearby
- Royal Palace of Caserta Built from 1752 onwards for the Bourbon Kings of Naples and Sicily, dependent of the Spanish Crown of Aragon in Baroque style, is the largest royal residence in the world in terms of volume. It has more than 40 monumental rooms completely decorated with frescoes while Versailles counts only with 22. You can visit almost every of those rooms without any troubles of being permitting or not to take pictures since it is possible everywhere.
- Belvedere of San Leucio The next important site within Caserta is the resort developed around an old silk factory built from 1750 by Charles VII of Naples and his son Ferdinand I. This village was intended for the workers of the factory that grew into an industrial town itself, known in 1789 as Real Colonia dei Setaioli.
- Aqueduct of Vanvitelli Completed in 1762 was needed to supply water to the Royal Palace and San Leucio silk factory. While mostly underground, the grand monumental section across the valley is modelled upon the ancient Roman aqueducts.
As we did not stay over at any of those places but returned to our base, Naples, then I cannot suggest nor comment anything about the region on where to stay. In any case and due to the proximity to Naples, it is almost certain you should make it your base.
Naples offers a huge choice that will save you lots of money and will be somehow, more comfortable if what you are looking is a weekend break and not a beach break. This was our third time in Naples, and third different hotel we are in the same area. Such near as pretty much around the corner from the previous ones. As usual, a good point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred hotel search engine websites such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.
We stayed at the Ibis Styles Napoli Garibaldi, very well located near both train stations, the city centre, and a short walk to the port. Nice clean and comfortable rooms although a bit small, nice and friendly staff and quiet during the night even though half of their rooms are facing towards the Circumvesuviana rail tracks of Porta Nalona. Their fares were also great at the time I booked it, and gladly I got it some weeks ahead as it was completely booked out matter of days after.
Further information on hotels and the city of Naples itself you can find in the travel guide for this city here.