Today I traveled to Caserta to the Royal Palace. It is about 30 minutes from Naples. Built to rival Versailles, I am sure it is magnificent inside. The outside is HUGE! However, I didn't go there for the palace, I went there for the Royal Gardens and the English Gardens. I spent over 3 hours wandering outside.
When you first walk out of the palace, there is a looooong walkway with gardens to your left. If you go straight, it is 3 km to the manmade waterfall at the end. They actually filmed the ending scene of the 1977 Star Wars there! Well, I walked all the way to the top of the walkway, which is the bottome of the waterfall -- you can't go up beside it. Along the way are fountains and trails. I chose to walk in the woods to stay in the shade.
At the top, you climb up some stairs and there is the waterfall ending in a fountain. The fountain has several statues in it.....I recognized Venus (I think.) Then, you turn to the right and enter the English Gardens. You follow the path to a marble statue of Venus bathing herself in this secret cove. They even built fake ruins nearby. The vegetation is amazing. I took a lot of pictures of this area.
Then you go on and see a smaller cave, bridge, and waterfall. These lead up to more ponds with fake ruins. I headed back to the waterfall and rode a bus down to the bottom this time! This time I headed to the Royal Gardens and got to wander through shady trails in the woods and see the area where the king liked to fish (a large manmade pond) and a child-size castle complete with moat for the prince to play! I kept wandering because the trails cut off at angles and I didn't want to miss anything. Several trails led to a small Cupid fountain, which wasn't even labeled on the map. I thought this was the nicest area. There was even a cave nearby......Of course, this is when I ran out of film! And I couldn't find pictures of this Cupid anywhere in the bookstore afterwards!!!
There is also a medieval part of Caserta, but I didn't know about it in time to go. I headed back to the house exhausted. I did like Caserta, though. It seemed cleaner and quieter than some places I have been. The sidewalks were actually regular size, not merely 1 foot wide like in some places here! If you are curious to see what some of this looks like, search for the Reggia at Caserta online. You will at least see the waterfall (and maybe recognize it) and the loooooong walk to get there.