It’s November and I take the train from Naples. The Reggia and its 120 ha of land is across the road from the station so there are no challenges finding it. I walk across the Piazza which clearly has the bones of a formal garden with boxed hedging but has been let go. The grasses grow over the surviving shrubs. The outside of the Reggia has scaffolding but the majestic size of the building is striking.
I pay a 12 Euro entry ticket then make my way right through the ground floor of the Reggia and out the other side into the Parco Reale gardens. I start walking and don’t stop for over 2 hours. It must be at least 3 km each way past the various gardens and cascades. What medicine after Napoli and it’s crowds and noise. I found myself feeling more and more upbeat and energised. I imagine it would be unbearably hot through the summer months, but today, the walk is just gorgeous.
As you can see from the pictures, I pass no other tourists, (the horse drawn buggy circles the gardens once while I am walking and a minivan calls by several times hoping I get tired and want a lift back, all for a small fee)and a few local joggers go by . As the sun gets low and it starts to cool, (about 3pm) I go into the Reggia. A section has been taken for use by the military I believe, there is a cafe and a bookstore, (and toilets). The section open to the public has a few tourists but we would have been outnumbered many times over by the staff manning every room. Just from appearances there is an enormous cost in keeping this place open to the public. But oh, it is such a glorious place.
The palace started being built in 1752 but was not completed until into the next century. It was built for the Bourbon Royal family prior to the unification of Italy.
It is exquisitely beautiful with artwork, frescoed ceilings, murano glass chandeliers, goldleaf, and rooms with names like the conversation room, the throne room, and seasonal names such as estate, and inverno.
Following the revolutionary times in Italy in the 1820s, King Ferdinand no longer ruled the two Sicilies. It seems a tragic waste that this building was only used for it’s purpose for around 70 years. The rooms feel as though the family got up one morning and vanished.
A quirky find was the royal presepe which I enjoyed. It takes up a good part of a whole room. I had not known that there were strict canon rules around the construction of a presepe. It is delightful.