A Dream Palace: the “Italian Versailles”

The Royal Palace of Caserta, known as the ‘Italian Versailles’ is a beautiful 18th Century building that belonged to the Royal House of Bourbon, first and foremost to Charles of Bourbon, King of Naples and Sicily, and to his beloved bride, the young queen Maria Amalia of Saxony. She inspired the famous architect Luigi Vanvitelli for the construction of the palace.

This setting, which tells about her and her love story with Charles, is to be seen again soon at cinemasRoyal Palace of Caserta thanks to “Caserta Palace Dream“, a short film by James Mc Teigue ( the director of “V for Vendetta” and “the Raven”), where the Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss plays the role of Vanvitelli.

The Royal Palace, its Park, one of the most beautiful in Europe, the  Aqueduct of Vanvitelli and the  suggestive, monumental complex, of San Leucio, all together proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located in Caserta, 30 km from Naples.

Its history begins on August 28th, 1750, when Charles of Bourbon, King of Naples and Sicily, bought a level land, near Caserta, a healthy and peaceful area, ideal for achieving his plan of “military and administrative restructuring of the kingdom”, by giving it a new capital, far from the sea and the wounds that this one may inflict. It would remind of the palace of Versailles, but  it would be vaster, more magnificent and more luxurious.

The king commissioned the project to the architect Luigi Vanvitelli. The Royal Palace, identified as the last great achievement of Italian Baroque, is certainly his most important work. The first stone was laid on January 20th, 1752, day of young Golden roof inside the Royal Palace of CasertaQueen Maria Amalia of Saxony, the king’s wife, 28th anniversary. The spouses threw gold and silver medals in the foundation pit of the Royal Palace and gave the architect Luigi Vanvitelli 100 shields, the hammer and the “cucchiara”, a silver spoon they had used to cover with lime the building foundation stone. The event is remembered in the fresco by Gennaro Maldarelli on the ceiling of the throne hall.

Director James Mc Guire had already filmed inside the Palace of Caserta “Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones” as the first assistant of George Lucas. “Caserta Palace Dream” was filmed last October and will be ready in 2014. The short film was produced by Pasta Garofalo, the historical brand of Gragnano pasta, in the province of Naples, which vaunts a legendary artisan tradition linked to the production of pasta, thanks to its ideal microclimate made of wind, right humidity and sun.

With its mills and mountain water springs, its streets  where one could walk on the side of the long pasta left to dry, and its sunny roofs where the short pasta was dyring, Gragnano has widely been celebrated by writers, poets and historians as the “home of pasta”.