Welcome to the Reggia di Caserta!
La Reggia di Caserta or the Royal Palace of Caserta is located in the city of Caserta, in Italys south. Caserta is located in the Campania region of Italy and it is situated about 36 kilometres (22 mi) north of Naples and approximately 74km from L’Osteria di Antonio in Avellino.
In this post, I recommend the ideal day in Italy’s south, where you can enjoy the grandeur of the Reggia (Royal Palace in English) and a delicious meal at one of southern Italy’s most popular Osteria’s!
From Food to History
I was invited by Angela Merolla, a local blogger, to attend a wine and food tasting (‘La strada del Cesanese’) she organized at L’Osteria di Antonio, with the participation of my friends at Corte dei Papi.
You are looking at a 2hr train/car ride from Rome to Caserta and a further hour to L’Osteria di Antonio (only by car), in Avellino but so worth the drive!
Since I had the ‘excuse’ of the food and wine tasting, I thought it was my chance to finally go see the famous Reggia di Caserta (Royal Palace of Caserta), one of Italy’s most famous!
I booked a room at Royal Caserta (60.00EUR for a double room*) due to its strategic position. Basically across the road from the Reggia di Caserta.
Reggia di Caserta
In 1996 the Reggia di Caserta became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The former royal residence was constructed for the Bourbon kings of Naples and started in 1752 by Charles VII of Naples, who worked closely with architect Luigi Vanvitelli.
Vanvitelli had only one political and social model in mind for ‘his’ palace and that was Versailles. Although it is strikingly different in its variety and disposition, the resemblances solve similar problems of assembling and providing for king, court and government a huge building. The Palace was built to showcase power and dominance, however, it also played the important role of being the new magnificent administrative capital of the Kingdom of Caserta and to protect all those inside from possible attacks.
The King also decided to build a theatre, a large library, a university and a magnificent garden. The garden is inspired by the park of Versailles but it is commonly regarded as being much more beautiful and captivating. The park starts from the back façade of the palace, flanking a long alley with fountains and cascades.
Sad but true
Had the Reggia di Caserta been located in another part of Italy, this would be one of the most famous monuments with millions of visitors per year.
While many people still visit the Palace, it is not as famous as Versailles or other sites located on the peninsula, due to poor management and its many scandals at a regional level.
Visiting Caserta and the Royal Palace
The Palace of Caserta is worth the day trip and it really does rival the palace of Versailles and in my very humble opinion, it simply out does it.
Starting early is essential as the Reggia is often visited by large school groups and it is also used by the locals, as their running track.
My recommendation would be to start the day at 8:30am/9:00am to avoid the line-ups and to really enjoy the empty halls of the palace for a good couple of hours.
At the ticket office they recommended to start the visit from the gardens (they close earlier) and then tour the palace, that is exactly what I did.
Allow for about 3-4 hours of your day. For full details on times and ticket prices, visit Beniculturali Website.
Without a doubt, the Reggia di Caserta steals the show as the highlight of the city, however, Casertavecchia is certainly worth the visit as well. In 1960 Casertavecchia was designated an Italian National Monument! Sites worth visiting are the church, its bell tower, and the remains of the original castle.
Visitors can dine in local pizzerias with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Located 12km from ‘modern Caserta’ and like many hill towns in Italy, the monuments are breathtaking, along with the views and of course, the food. Expect some of the best Mozzarella di Bufala in Italy!
L’Osteria di Antonio
Antonio De Stefano, the owner of the restaurant, was the chef of a Roman noble family (as was his father before him) and after dedicating his life to others, he decided to go back home to Avellino to recreate his life in Rome through food.
The menu consists of mostly Roman dishes from the antipasto through to the sides, however, you can come to expect some delicious local plates from the Daily Specials.
Antonio does not believe in freezer’s because, firstly, he does not own one and secondly he believes that if the meat is not served fresh, it will never have the right ‘taste’. Most noteworthy is that all the ingredients used are brought in fresh, daily.
You might be asking yourself why go to Avellino for Roman food?
First of all, you are away from the hustle and bustle of the city and those terrible tourists traps, in addition, you come to expect fresh produce and the highest quality meals, along with a overnight trip to visit the Reggia di Caserta.
All this at a reasonable price.
I normally do not publicize restaurants I visit in my posts but this was an exception, as it really deserves the attention it is getting.
Some of the friendly diners from that day told us that they come from from Sorrento, Naples, Bari and Rome just for one of Antonio’s signature dishes.
Now that is loyalty!
L’Osteria di Antonio is only reachable by car and a Google Map link (click to view) will be useful when traveling from Rome.
How to get there
While on the road you can click the map and it will open your Google Map App (and an internet connection or click before heading out and it works offline too!).
Parcheggio Interrato Carlo III, is a great option for parking, at 12.00EUR per day. The fees are reasonable and the garage is directly under the palace with a pedestrian walkway that gets you to the front garden of the Palace.
Using Trenitalia.com, you can get a train ticket from Rome for approximately 25.00EUR with a regional train, while with Italo.it you can get from Roma Tiburtina (from Termini Metro Line B) to Napoli Centrale and from there take a regional train to Caserta.
You can take these high speed train options from Rome to Naples and a regional train from Naples to Caserta, however, for the price of approximately 50.00EUR you are better off using the regional trains, since the travel time is almost the same.
La Reggia di Caserta is directly opposite the train station and once you get across the large roundabout (be careful as no traffic lights), you will see it in all its glory! After 200-300 meters (you will have the Royal Caserta Hotel on your right) and the front garden of the Reggia to your left.
Tourist by Chance
Have you been to Caserta and what were your thoughts and experiences during your visit?
Please make sure to tell me your story and what you discovered on your trip by leaving a comment below.
Authors Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been completely revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.