The Royal Bourbon Delight
The site was part of a group of 22 sites of the royal dynasty of the Bourbons of Naples, located in the Terra di Lavoro. Here, Ferdinando IV of Bourbon and his family could enjoy activities such as hunting and at the same time oversee the large farm where wheat was grown and horses were bred.
History of the site
The monumental complex of Carditello is a fascinating element in the panorama of Bourbon sites. A unique site, the complex is set in a large area that still retains the extraordinary landscape qualities that prompted the Bourbons to choose it at the time.
The history of the Real Sito di Carditello began in 1744, when King Carlo III of Bourbon decided to allocate the estate of the Count of Acerra, the heart of Campania Felix, to agricultural and dairy production and the breeding of thoroughbred horses. In 1787, during the reign of Ferdinando IV, the architect Francesco Collicini was then commissioned to build a new palace on the estate. When the court had to move to Sicily, the site was stripped of much of its wealth and in the following decades its use was split between productive activity, always flourishing, and hunting expeditions by the royal family. In 1860, the estate was occupied by Garibaldi's troops, then passed to the Casa Reale dei Savoia (Royal House of Savoy) after the Unification. From 1920, the property was sold to the Opera Nazionale Combattenti, while the paintings and furnishings remaining on site were transported to the other royal residences. Since then, the site has experienced a period of progressive decline, due to neglect and the scattering of its heritage. A first attempt at restoration began in 1948, when ownership of the estate passed to the Consorzio di Bonifica del Basso Volturno (Lower Volturno Land Reclamation Consortium), but the operation could not be completed because of a lack of funds. Since 2004, after a succession of ups and downs, Carditello has seen the start of a rapid process of re-evaluation, thanks to the passion of civic movements and the commitment of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, which acquired it in 2014. On 25 February 2016, the site was entrusted to the Real Sito di Carditello Foundation, which was created by a cooperation agreement between the Minister of Culture and Tourism, the President of the Campania Region, the Prefect of Caserta and the Mayor of San Tammaro. The Foundation, in keeping with the Site's vocation as a residence for hunting on the one hand, and a modern farm on the other, proposes cultural activities and initiatives relating to the equestrian and agri-food sector, in collaboration with the University of Naples Federico II, the University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, the CNR and other bodies and associations.
Collicini, who was supported in the direction of the decoration of the Casino Reale by the painter Jacob Philip Hackert, created a symmetrical and linear neoclassical complex, with a central building flanked by eight buildings, which are interspersed with eight towers. At the back of the architectural complex, in the direction of the countryside, there are five courtyards used for agricultural purposes, while at the front there is an elongated dirt track, inspired by ancient Roman circuses.
Finally, in the middle of the large field stands a circular temple with a small lacunar dome resting on a stepped base. The main structure of the entire complex is the central building, which is mainly on two levels: the first floor is used for the royal flats, while the ground floor housed the services such as the kitchen, salt cellar, pantries and other rooms used for servants and the production and sale of agricultural and dairy products. The upper floor is reached by climbing two symmetrical staircases with three flights, accessible from the two hallways. The walls of the staircase are decorated with faux marble and stucco carvings depicting hunting trophies, while the vault is decorated with stucco with foliage and garlands.
The royal apartment, consisting of a large reception hall used for the banquets of the sovereign and his entourage, occupies the centre of the Palazzina towards the south front, and is preceded by an antechamber that receives light only from a singular and deep sloping gable that reaches the roof. Two large living rooms open onto the sides of the hall, while the bedrooms are located on the vertical side of the ground floor hallways. On the north side, between the two staircases, in a perfectly vertical position and with the front on the side opposite the façade of the Palazzina, is the great Cappella Palatina (Palatine Chapel), which runs the full height of the building, with two lateral galleries on the first floor, reserved for the Sovereigns and the Court.
An elegant staircase leads to a balcony with a framed travertine balustrade, from which a staircase leads to a covered belvedere. From here, a further wooden spiral staircase leads to an upper balcony, also with a travertine balustrade and a royal coat of arms. All the surviving art objects, furniture and furnishings were transferred to various museums in 1924, mainly to the Royal Palace of Caserta, where they remain now.