Caserta Palace is the hidden gem of Southern Italy. The palace was constructed by the Bourbon Kings of Naples, as a safe retreat from the rebellion prone city, and an inland haven from any sea attacks. The building was constructed to rival Versailles, and to this day remains the largest royal residence in the world in terms of volume. In the midst of restoration, the palace is undergoing a complete overhaul. In the last few months the facade of the building has been uncovered, and additional rooms opened to the general public.
The tour of the building begins with the grand staircase of honor: an enormous room with soaring ceilings, walls covered in colorful marble panels, and huge windows casting beams of light on to every different surface. Each room from then on takes ornate to a whole new level, and the Italian mastery of color is fused with a Bourbon sense of elegance. The sheer scale of each room is mind blowing, and the full tour takes several hours. One of my favorite little surprises was a pair of hanging birdcages, with clocks on the bottoms, given to Queen Maria Carolina by her sister, Marie Antoinette.
Besides the beautiful rooms and immense hallways, the gardens are a sight to be seen. We were lucky to visit on a sunny day, and the walk through the gardens was incredibly pleasant. The gardens are a bit overgrown, but that makes it almost more mysterious and magical. You can hop in a horse drawn carriage and take a ride down to the end of the park to admire the view.