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Top Six Wonders Of Campania Which Must Be Seen: Caserta & Pompei

Updated on October 24, 2009



Positioned on the spurs of the Campania plain, the town owes its fame to the superb 18th century Bourbon Royal Palace and gardens called the "Versailles of Italy" and to the surrounding park with the fine fountains, which are so extravagant and ornate, that they served as the royal palace in more than one Star Wars epic motion picture!

Built for Charles III by Luigi Vanvitelli, the palace is one of the largest in Europe with 1,200 rooms, illuminated by more than 1,700 windows. The State Apartments boast Venetian chandeliers, Sevres porcelain, richly gilded frescoes, tapestries, gilded baths with gold faucets, alabaster dressing tables and massive paintings.

It is actually the formal gardens that are the main attraction: The 250 acres of gardens are divided into three areas; the Italian garden with its waterfalls and mythological statues; the Feudal Park with the wood of the ancient Dukes of Caserta; and the romantic English Garden, arranged around ruins and a small lake, including greenhouses, cedars, tulip trees and magnolias. At the end of a one kilometer long avenue, you will find a great waterfall where marble figures of Diana and Acteon and others hunt and run over the rocks. Up and above the Diana waterfall is a beautiful viewpoint, reached by steps.




"The ninth day before the Kalends of September [...appeared on the horizon ] a cloud of extraordinary size and appearance..." With these words Pliny the Younger opens the description of the terrifying eruption of Vesuvius in which he restates the last hours of the life of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, the great naturalist who lost his life in the disaster with many other Pompeians on account of his generosity and scientific curiosity; in fact, in A.D. 79, Pliny the Elder, disturbed by reports of a strange cloud covering the far side of the bay, hurried off to observe this phenomenon. And so the great naturalist died, as did so many others on this day.

On that tragic morning of 24 August many centuries ago, Pompei, which as fate would have it had developed on land which had originated from a stream of lava which had erupted from Vesuvius in prehistoric times, woke up to discover that the fertile mountain on whose slopes it stood was in fact a volcano which had until then remained inactive.
Unlike Herculaneum and other towns, hit by a true river of mud, Pompei was struck by a gigantic cloud of poisonous gases, ashes, lapilli and incandescent stones which deposited on the city burying it below seven metres of ash.

Some of the inhabitants, sensing the unusual scope of the catastrophe, attempted to escape towards the sea, where however many met their deaths. Those who remained in the city to recover as many belongings as possible before running away, hoping in vain that violence of the volcano would cease or that they could take refuge in underground rooms of the buildings, were suffocated by the ashes and by the lethal fumes of the cloud. Chilling testimonials of these desperate attempts are the plaster casts of bodies scattered throughout various parts of the city. The ashes and lapilli thus wiped out life from Pompei, which from that day onwards was virtually abandoned.

From that moment Pompei left the historical scene and only returned many centuries later. Between the end of the sixteenth and the start of the the seventeenth century, when at was uncovered, during the building of a canal: Thus was the most preserved city of Roman times discovered once again.

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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Hope you enjoy it! Thanks!

    • Sufidreamer profile image

      Sufidreamer 8 years ago from Sparti, Greece

      Great Hub, Hal - it is over 20 years since I visited Pompeii, and I still remember what a sad place it was. A 'must see' place when visiting Italy.

      I hope to go back sometime soon - it would be nice to see it again and enjoy pizza, ice-cream and coffee in Naples - the three steps to heaven!

      Off to read the rest of the series :)