While I´m sitting in front of my trullo near Alberobello having breakfast, in my mind I´m going back some days to Vieste and to driving that winding road along the coast of Gargano.
I was looking for all those heavenly beach, but most of them seem to belong to hotels or campsites and weren´t that easily spotted from above. So I took a boat-tour the next morning. Leaving from the post of Vieste we drove all along the coastline, into some of the caves (Grotta) and I finally saw some of those well hidden beaches. We even made a stop at one…
You have never heard of Guglionesi? Me neither, but I found the most beautiful B & B there! I didn´t want to drive all the way from Caserta to Vieste in one day and decided to have a little detour around Molise. A beautiful county with lots of towns and villages on the top of the mountains.
After a coffeebreak in Campobasso and a short look at the closed Amphitheater in Larino I arrived in the little town Guglionesi and found the B & B Valle di Gioia with the help of my friendly hosts. After a warm welcome by the dog of the house, I felt instantly at home – olive trees everywhere, chicken running around and the most stunning views from the terrace: from the sea to the mountains of the Abruzzes. And they didn´t even pay me to say that, they just gave me fresh figs from the garden for breakfast and a cute dog to cuddle!
This monday I arrived save and sound first in Rome and then in Napoli – just right on time to pick up my rental car and leave the city in direction to Caserta. A small town about 30 minutes from Napoli. Finding the town was easy but then the trouble with the navigation system started and I kind of drove in circles around my B&B in the town center for quite some time – so far we haven´t made up, I probably will try a different one or go back to reading maps.
Nevertheless my B&B was right next to the reason I came to Caserta – the royal palace – Reggia di Caserta!
So far Versailles had been the grandest palace I had seen – La Reggia di Caserta even seemed bigger? Perhaps that was even the intention of the Bourbon kings of Naples, for whom it was constructed in the 18th century? Speaking of volume it is the largest royal residence in the world, „with over 2 million m³ and covering an area of about 47,000 m² (or 61,000 m²).“ (Wikipedia)
Construction began in 1752 for Carlo VII di Napoli (& Carlo V di Sicilia) under the italian architect Luigi Vanvitelli.
„Another of the king’s primary objects was to have a magnificent new royal court and administrative center for the kingdom in a location protected from sea attack, and distant from the revolt-prone and congested city of Naples. To provide the king with suitable protection, troop barracks were housed within the palace.“ (Wikipedia)
During World War I and II the palace housed the Italian Air Force Academy and from 1943 it served as the seat of the Supreme Allied Commander during the allied invasion. In 1945 the unconditional German surrender of forces in Italy was signed here.
5 floors, 1200 rooms (only a handful are open to public at the moment, there are huge renovations going on in and around the palace), a chapel, a library and a theater modeled after the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.
View of Vesuvio
And then there is the baroque garden stretching on 120 hectars…. As I was pressed for time I took the shuttle bus to get to the end of the canal and walked down again. I still only managed to walk the canal and didn´t even see the English gardens or had time to explore. It would probably best to rent a bike, buy some things for a picnic and spend at least one day in this park!
You might recognize the palace or the gardens, they are used in many movies from Gina Lollobrigidas „Beautiful but dangerous“ in 1955 to „Star Wars“ and „Mission Impossible“.
Yesterday the KHM (Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna) kindly invited a bunch of peoples with cameras to take a closer look and even play on their Collection of Historic Musical Instruments situated at Neue Burg next to the Nationalbibliothek. It´s one of the biggest (and most important) collections of instruments from the Renaissance area, started by the Habsburg family and quite a few of the instruments are still used today! Admire Mozarts violin, beautiful claviers of all kinds and all the other the „tools“ of other amazing musicians!