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.
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.