The Royal Palace of Caserta is the main tourist attraction in Caserta. Wanted by the Spanish king Charles of Bourbon as his summer residence, it’s construction started in 1752 and was completed in 1845.
I’ve been working at the Royal Palace as a tour guide for 2 years, but just for four/five months a year, from February to June or July. In fact, this is the best period for tourism, and many groups of students come for their school trips. Working there is a good opportunity for people like me, who have a degree in art history. It was nice for me to see a lot children every day. I had already worked as an animator at children’s parties and I like working with them, but not in all circumstances . Unfortunately many children are not interested in arts and they are often noisy and disruptive. If I were a father, I would teach my children to respect culture and appreciate arts, because It’s part of our history!
The Royal Palace is extremely attractive for its history and it has been chosen as the location for many films. It’s huge and famous but not kept very well. The Palace has 1200 rooms but only 40 of them are open to the public for tours. Many of them are closed because they are not artistically interesting and this is understandable. Some rooms, like the princess’s bedroom or some small restrooms are mysteriously closed for restoring, which seems to be endless. Still today it remains a mystery… There are also some problems in the wonderful Royal Park, which is not always clean. Moreover, from this year, there aren’t any more shuttle buses that take the tourists from the Palace up to the Park , and to the Royal Gardens, and the English Gardens which is quite a long walk. The truth is that more attention should be given to the enhancement of the Palace.
Even today, many people think that the Royal Palace of Caserta was built to imitate the Palace of Versailles, the big Royal residence of Luigi 14th, King of France. But this is not true! Of course, it’s very similar, especially for the luxury of the decorations, with gold, marble and other precious stones. But it’s different for the architectural design: being more simple and schematic in Caserta , rather than the one in Versailles. Luigi Vanvitelli , the famous architect who designed the Royal Palace of Caserta, is said that was inspired not by Versailles, but by the Spanish Escorial in Madrid,! It’s also true that Versailles’s palace is bigger than the one in Caserta, but Caserta’s Royal palace , with its Park, covers a larger area than Versailles. In addition, Caserta has 1200 rooms, while Versailles, only 700. I think that it is a shame that the history of such an incredible monument isn’t taught either at our local schools nor in all the Italian ones.
I’m a big movie fan: I always enjoy watching movies at the cinema, and I’m proud of the Royal palace being a location often used for films. Yes, because the building’s interiors have been used as locations for famous movies like “Angels and Demons”, directed by Ron Howard, and “Star Wars”, episode one and two, directed by George Lucas, and “Mission Impossible”, the third episode, directed by J.J. Abrams. I remember that in 1999, when Lucas was filming in Caserta, he was looking for extras. I didn’t go because 13 years ago my interest for cinema wasn’t as strong as it is now: I should have taken advantage of that opportunity, especially for an American movie! But, actually, I wish I had gone there not to work as an extra, but to meet Natalie Portman, the beautiful star of the movie (she played the part of Queen Amidala).