On my way from Trani to Naples I had a change-over in trains at Caserta. It was only happenstance that I even know about Reggia di Caserta let alone stopped to visit it today. This morning my friend Dave and I took the train up from Trani to Foggia on Dave’s commute to work. Along with us was his Italian colleague who inquired where I was headed. I said Naples. He mentioned I would be going through Caserta. It was then that Dave and the gentleman both encouraged me to see the palace (reggia) situated right outside the train station. At first I was hesitant to delay getting to Naples where I wanted to get a start on visiting Pompeii; but, the weather proved to be cooperative today as it is the first time since I have been in Italy that is rained. Which is to say I felt a bit of a stroll indoors was warranted.
I was also hesitant due to the fact that Dave compared Reggia di Caserta to Châteu de Versailles of France. Dave did not know, but I was not overly impressed with Versailles when I visited it three years ago in late December. It was very crowded. The quality of the renovation seemed haphazard. And overall, while one can certainly appreciate the opulence it once held, it seemed very much its glory days were well behind it. A fact that is a bit saddening when one considers it to be a national treasure. I am sure a second visit will remedy this; but for now, whereas Versailles disappoints, Caserta enthralls. The quality of the architecture is breath-taking and the care to which the portion of the palace open to the public is mind-numbingly beautiful. Room and room after room produces one intake of breath after the next. And once you are done with the interior, the exterior garden that extends some two kilometers back to a natural spring is a marvel of engineering and craftsmanship. I walked the entire thing with my pack from VeloTransit, which is to say I got my exercise for today.