Things to see and do - Caserta Vecchia
Campania around Naples :
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Campania around Naples
Campania around NaplesBy car, 380 km, 3 days
If you’re looking to leave the supercharged atmosphere of Naples to enjoy the deep tranquility of Campania, inland as well as by the sea, then follow our advice ... A tour of dreams!Customise this route and add it to My travel book
This enormous rectangular building jointed around four interior courtyards interconnected by a magnificent vestibule was commissioned for Luigi Vanvitelli by Charles III of Bourbon. The main stairway leads to sumptuous royal apartments furnished in neoclassical style. You can see the 18C apartment, with its walls covered in frescoes (J.P. Hackert) representing the four seasons and the Queen's apartment, which is quite charming, decorated in a rocaille style.
Following the indentations of the rocky coast between Sorrento and Salerno, the mountain road hugs the Amalfi coast. The best way to explore what is arguably the most stunning coastline in Italy is to start out from Positano. Once a fishing village, formerly much loved by artists and trend-setters, it will give you a foretaste of the white-washed villages you will go through, beginning with Vettica Maggiore whose esplanade offers a fine view. The road branches off to the Furore Valley, the most impressive section of the coast owing to the dark depths of its steep rocky walls. The next stop Grotta dello Smeraldo features stalagmites, which rise up from the depths (10m) of the exceptionally transparent emerald waters. The road now heads for Amalfi, a rather Spanish-looking town perched on slopes overlooking the sea. The wonderful setting and historic town centre are too charming to pass by without taking a stroll around. You will also appreciate the two old churches of the pretty village of Atrani further east. From there, head for Ravallo and explore the splendid site with its duomo, lanes, staircases and vaulted passages perched on the hillside. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the wonderful 13C Villa Rufolo and admire the unforgettable view from the terraces. Villa Cimbrone (early 19C) is another property to look out for with its splendid gardens, at the end of which is a breathtaking panorama. Now head down to the coast towards Salerno via Cap d'Orso and the village of Vietri sul Mare, a town affording magnificent views.
This historic centre is made up of the Via Capuano and Via Genova. The Via dei Mercanti runs parallel to them. Here you will discover a dazzling white labyrinth of façades of differing kinds as well as balconies, flowery recesses, narrow streets, small staircases, arched passageways and small squares decorated with fountains. Perfect for a charming stroll.
Established in 9C, then enlarged in 10 and 13C, the cathedral is a good example of the town's attraction to oriental splendour. The façade (rebuilt in 19C) stands at the top of an imposing stairway and attracts attention with its varied geometrical designs in multicoloured stone. The campanile, on the left, is all that remains of the original church. A beautiful 11 C bronze door from Constantinople leads to a Baroque interior where you can admire some antique columns.
This all-white building from 1268 blends Romanesque austerity with Arab fantasy and leads the way to the diocesan museum set up in the basilica of the Crucifix, an ancient 9C Cathedral which has today reverted to its Romanesque forms, accommodating, among other artworks, a fresco of a Madonna and Child, painted with incredible softness.
Via San Giovanni del Toro leads to an 11C church of the same name and a wonderful belvedere.
A peaceful narrow street running between low walls leaves the Piazza Vescovaldo and crosses the countryside as far as the doors of the twin churches of S. Francesco and Santa Chiara. Then you reach the villa and the enchantment begins. Everything is false here. But all is done in a wonderful way. The villa dates from the 19C and was built by one of those eccentrics that only England can produce: Lord William Beckett chose this eclectic style, recalling by turns the Villa Rufolo and the Gothic Church of S. Francesco in both the cloister and the attractive ogive vaulted room. At one and the same time the villa pays homage to the past of Ravello and serves as a reference point for the Bloomsbury Group whose aesthetic ideal of clarity, order and harmony is embodied in the splendid garden. A wide alley leads to the belvedere, a balcony perched directly over the sea. Its kerbstones are studded with marble statues. The panoramic view takes the breath away: the sea below illuminates everything, the hills above, covered in farmed terraces, the hairpinned-bend road that the asthmatic van seem to have trouble climbing (the rest you will know if you have been to Amalfi!), Maiori, the Cap d'Orso and the gulf of Salerno... It is vertigo inducing! No surprise then to learn that Greta Garbo used to stay there? The place, sheer heaven: fit then for a demi-goddess?
There is a 12C campanile, a bronze door (1179) signed by Barisanus de Trani, a magnificent pulpit covered in mosaics of motifs and fantastic animals (1272), an ambo decorated with green mosaics depicting Jonas swallowed and then spat out by the whale, a crypt containing a museum with mosaics, sculptures and a silver head-reliquary (St Barbara kindly provided the relics): surely all this is worth a look?
A road tunnel leads into this gorge whose name reflects the fury and thunder of the wild, rough seas. Modest fishermen's houses cling to the slopes, while vividly coloured fishing boats bob up and down below. For those who wish to explore the spot on foot, a path runs along one side of the gorge.
The view from the headland of Punta del Capo di Sorrente offers a superb view of Sorrento, the sea, and the surrounding hillsides covered with olive groves, vines, orange and lemon trees. At Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, perched on a crest which dominates both the Gulf of Salerno and the Bay of Naples, the Belevedere del Deserto affords a splendid panorama.
Founded en 1306, this Carthusian monastery is today made up mainly of Baroque building: from the Foresteria cloister, a cedar doorway gives access to the showy church which has two admirable 16C chancels. Around the great cloister are the monks' cells. A large 18C staircase, majestic and theatrical inspired works by Luigi Vanvitelli.