1. Caserta: Royal Palace Tour with a Local Guide
The Reggia of Caserta is a jewel in southern Italy. Built in 1750 by the Bourbon King Charles of Naples, this royal palace features staggering dimensions with 1,200 lavish rooms and gardens that rival European contemporaries. Ciro, one of our local guides, says, ‘It’s hard to believe that Luigi Vanvitelli was second choice for the job! Discover what inspired this great architect, looking closely at his work, and delve into the history of its 100-year construction during a pre-unified Italy. Marvel at the illusion of the gardens that stretch to the horizon. Follow the turquoise pools – look closer to see the fish – that lead to the immense Great Waterfall. Fountains, sculptures and waterfalls inspired by classical mythology. From sea monsters to the Fountain of Aeolus, there are countless wonders. You’ll get your dose of nature among the native and exotic plants of the English Gardens, with more pools, lakes and temples. Inside the palace, walk past the marble lions and up the immense Grand Staircase – with its parallel staircases, arches and columns resembling a temple. Local guide Ciro, says, ‘Look up to see the painted dome – a false ceiling used by musicians to surprise guests with music’. Explore the opulent rooms of the Royal Appartments decorated with frescoes, gold, chandeliers and baroque furniture. You’ll also see the chapel and theater, a mini version of Naples’ Teatro San Carlo. They’ll leave you in complete awe.