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Howdy! I can’t believe I have such a short time left in Italy! Around the 11 day mark I was really regretting the length of my trip and it felt like the days were dragging by, but now they are flying and I’m starting to get a little sad about having to leave in a couple of weeks!
Today my friend and I went to the Royal Palace of Caserta. I’m not going to lie and tell you guys I knew all about it and was super happy to go there because I literally had no clue it existed until this morning. It is definitely worth a visit. The entry of the palace is really dilapidated and there is even (what looked like) an abandoned hotel in one of the wings outside the main palace. The inner courtyards and parts of the entrance are under restoration, but you are free to visit the royal apartments, several wings of the palace, and the expansive gardens out back. It reminded me a lot of the Pitti Palace in Florence, but it was more modern and I thought it was better organized and also easier to navigate. When I left I was sure I’d seen it all and the signs in each room of the apartments were really interesting. Other than the main picture rooms, some of the art wasn’t labeled which was frustrating, but I’m sure you could find books that tell you everything you need to know.
I wish I could write at length about the history, but I need to read more about it…I know it was a Bourbon palace for the newly founded Kingdom of Naples. It was gorgeous inside and there were lots of famous portraits of royals, beautiful ceilings and chandeliers, as well as fascinating furnishings!
There is a cafe on the grounds which is really nice if you want to get a drink or snack, but lots of people were picnicking in the gardens, so that would be a fun option as well.
There are several ticket options, but if you want access to all of the sites there is a 14 Euro ticket that includes everything. I believe the cheapest option is 7 Euros, but I don’t know what it includes.
Although the royal apartments were all I saw, I feel like more of the wings of the palace could be open because it is GIGANTIC!
It was SO hot outside today, so after stopping into the cafe and bookshop, we just walked to the first pond in the gardens and then back to the main palace. There are buses, horse drawn carriages, and bicycles you can rent to take you part of the way through the gardens. They are really pretty and kind of a mix between the gardens I saw at Villa Manin and at Pitti Palace. It’s definitely somewhere you could spend all day, if you wanted to find good entertainment and history for 14 Euros!
After the palace we drove back to the base and I finally got to go to the NEX (Naval Exchange-a tax free department store for sailors and their families). I got a few travel size toiletries that I’d run out of and we had lunch in the food-court. I went to KFC and it was…interesting. I’ve only eaten at American fast food chains once or twice on all my trips to Europe (and always McDonald’s) so I didn’t know what to expect. My friend explained a few days ago that most of the products served here have to come from the commissary on base because food stuffs from the economy (off base) are not USDA approved. So, like, school lunches, hospital meals, and meals from the NEX food-court are produced with ingredients from the commissary. The chicken strips and BBQ sauce were good, but the biscuit and macaroni and cheese were weird, not bad, but weird. And no, the mac and cheese was not fluorescent orange like in the U.S., it was legit Italian mac and cheese…white as can be. The potato skins had the same flavored seasoning as the ones at KFC in America, but they were made from little bitty potatoes and the coating on the outside was different-not as crunchy.
After our lunch we went back to her house and rested and got ready for dinner. Two of the soldiers form her husband’s unit are leaving Naples so they were having a Hail and Farewell dinner for them. I never got to go to any of my dad’s Hail and Farewells, so it was cool to see all the guys give speeches about their comrades and talk to everyone. They rented out part of a local restaurant called Barolino. It was 20 Euros a person for wine, water, salad, an appetizer, pasta, mussels, and cake! It was SO delicious and it was nice to see everyone I’ve met throughout the week. We just ate and talked for a few hours before coming back to her house.
Only 12 full days left in Italy, so keep reading and see what other kind of trouble I get in to! 🙂
SN: I uploaded pictures some pictures I took on my phone to this blog, but when I do that they all post at the bottom. They are below the break, if you are interested.