309 – 310: Stinking Crater and Stinking Rich

309 – Tuesday 23rd February 2016:  A Steaming Stinking Crater

Happy Birthday Louis … not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today!

A sad and fond farewell from Naples – we’re really could not justify staying longer.  The Sulfartic Crater – oops, Sofatara Crater was smelly and very warm in places – 160 c water temp – K thought about bringing our walls to smash – sorry smalls to wash – but we don’t really want socks that would burn and defoliate our legs…..  Impressive place but an hour was sufficient.  In keeping with Brad the Sat Nav … it moves!  Up and down.  Lots of sinking churches and cracked buildings.  It’s called Bradyseism – official!





The above photos show me (J) and Chardonnay practising our latest dance routine! It’s called “Strictly” – novel, eh?  In a very tight space, I say to Chard – “suck your tummy in, girl and hold your breath”… It works!  Once through, she can breathe – and dance around as much as she likes – especially around potholes. It could be a new TV show – “Prickly Some Prancing”!  BBC…? Brucie? 

First we decided to visit a port … far too busy and pay metres everywhere.  Secondly a lake – simple, you say?  Find a lake and drive there… We don’t do simply (facile) …..  down a narrow street – a narrower street – has the reader detected that we’ve been here before ? Road blocked and no obvious place to turn.  Lots of help in fluent Italian from locals and Chard once again sucked in her tummy (should we buy a motorhome whalebone corset?) – reversed in through a (narrow?) gate – and abandoned the Lago search.  All sails set – off to a free overnight parking near Deserta – no, James – Caserta !  The correct order in Italian cuisine – its aunty patsy, then primocaruso, then secondosomething, then deserta – then somnovinoque…zzzz 


310 – 24th February 2016: Caserta Royal Palace 

The parking was good – quiet and peaceful.  K was going to run at dawn – but Dawn said otherwise…..like, stay in bed !  But she did ‘Pilates of the Caribbean’ at about 0900 hours – watched by the local young ladies on their power walks.  Why were they not watching me? Munching cereal and drinking carrot juice – just as exciting…

We drove to a pukka sosta at Caserta and parted with EUR15 to park till the morrow.  Bicycles launched – Caserta Palace in our sights.  After several tours of the town, we joined a long queue for cycle tourists biglietti – tickets to the reader… a long time later, we entered the Palace Park. The entire complex is billed as a smaller Versailles – very true – and not so small either !  The park and English Gardens are beautiful if a bit neglected at this time of year, but well worth a visit (on bikes – lots of ground to cover uphill and down.

Having sold tickets to cyclists, there are no places to park bikes while touring the house!!!  Back to town to seek a bike parking place – we spotted something!  It was a bar – that sold wine! Now then – try locking your bike to a glass of red wine – you may fail – and incur the wrath of the bar owner…. Once refreshed, we found the pike bark – bike park !  It was good wine !  The house was vast, full of frescoes, portraits of Charles II, sculptures, etc.  Not immensely moving.  The portrait we would really like to have seen but was missing – painted by Michaelangelo (I made that up) was on the side of the royal commode!

Not Versailles or Hampton Court – but extremely impressive in it’s scope – and gardens….

Back by varicose routes – to the excellent Sosta for the night – gated and quiet – hush…..


Sadly nearly all of the exterior was shrouded due – and men were actually lavorio in corso … not like in Naples, where scaffolding was rusting and wilting.  Work started in 1752 after Charles of Bourbon wanted to compete in the palace stakes with Versailles.   A few facts … The facade is 250m. 1200 rooms.  1790 windows.  34 staircases.  

The main attraction of the grounds is the English Garden – not sure how many of the species are UK winter hardy!?  However, it was probably the highlight, with a lot of variety and some Magnolia and Camellias in bloom.  K loved the tree shapes ….





The formal gardens comprise a 3+km stretch of water and cascades.  Water was diverted from miles away to feed the garden waterworks.



The grey blob on the horizon is the house … it was quite a serious steady 3 km bike climb to the top!


Diana and her nymphs bathing… K saw Darcey Bustle perform this part at the ENO in Delibes’ Sylvia with Mutt some years ago  :). 


Peeping Tom … comeuppance …. turned into a Stag and his own dogs attracted him!


Part of the 3 km series of cascades.  Lots of carp in the pools.  The ponds were actually used for fish for the Palace.



Could be Spain … Tapas with wine.


The Palace felt really unlived in.  Not a patch on most National Trust properties.   However, you did get the sense of ‘immense’ and how much wealth the Bourbons had.  Very little is on view to the public.

One thought on “309 – 310: Stinking Crater and Stinking Rich

  1. I used to visit Solfatara with my tour groups. If you jump up and down you can feel how hollow the ground is. Personally, I always felt safer up Vesuvius. Well done on squeezing Chardonnay through that arch. Not sure I would have wanted to do that.


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