Caserta is a small city 27 km away from Naples. The origins of this town are still uncertain: someone says it was founded by the Samnites, others says by the Romans. However, the most common opinion is that it was the Longobards from Capua that settled first in the 13th century. During the Middle Ages, the town was under the rule of the Capuas family. More importance Caserta gains during the 18th century, when Caserta’s most famous sight, the Baroque Reggia (Royal Palace) was achieved and the city of Caserta was the country seat of the Kings of Naples. As the Italian challenge to the magnificence of Versailles, the Royal Palace of Naples at Caserta is one of the most extraordinary accomplishments of 18th-century art and architecture. With 1200 spectacularly furnished rooms and 34 grand staircases, it is a monument to the splendor of its age. The palace is set in beautifully landscaped park, whose stunning waterfalls and fountains were created 250 years ago with the construction of a 30-mile long aqueduct.
Visitors in Caserta are welcomed by the typical quiet of the past. The ancient part of the town is as still as it was centuries ago and preserves the evidences of its history and art.
When Talking about Caserta and its origins and the Caserta of the Reggia we must keep in mind that we’re talking about two different places, the medieval village of Caserta Vecchia ( Old Caserta) (Original name Casa Hirta) and the city of Caserta. Caserta is located in the valley below mount Virgo on top of which we find Caserta Vecchia, therefore the two towns are five miles away from each other. The present city of Caserta did not exist before the Royal Palace was built. The idea for Royal Palace came to Charles III while on a visit to Caserta Vecchia ( In those days it was called Caserta) and he was impressed with the wooded valley at the foot of Mount Virgo and decided to build a palace there to rival Versailles. He commissioned the Italian architect Luigi Vanvitelli and the first stone was laid on June 27 1752. Vanvitelli never saw the completion of the Palace as he died before it was completed, his son Carlo completed the work. And, Charles III never lived there as he was crowned King of Spain before its completion, Ferdinand the IV succeeded him as the Bourbon King of Naples. Eventually the people living in Caserta Vecchia migrated to the new city that was growing around the Royal Palace and the old Caserta was renamed Caserta Vecchia.