It is no coincidence that the area of Campania between the slopes of Mount Massico to the north and the Campi Flegrei and Vesuvius area to the south and crossed by the river Volturno, was called Campania Felix by the ancient Romans.
The Belvedere of San Leucio Borboni palace-factory
This vast plain enjoys a mild climate and fertile land made by the action of extinct volcanoes such as Roccamonfina. Land that, despite the recent destructive action by man, continue to produce the best of the culinary tradition of Campania including famous wines since ancient times, the Castagna of Roccamonfina, the Apple Annurca, the Buffalo Mozzarella. And wines and cuisine are an irresistible attraction for those visiting the area on a par with renowned monuments such as the Royal Palace of Caserta.
The Palace we could not visit because it is closed on Tuesdays, but the second choice was not at all a fallback. We decided to reach the Belvedere of San Leucio in a beautiful sunny morning allowing us to push our eyes from the top of the mountain on the Reggia di Caserta and the town below us, on Naples and Mount Vesuvius and even the Capri island.
While waiting for the tour, we wander in space in front of the grand palace that Ferdinando IV in 1773 took as his residence. The garden slopes down to the village and close to a semicircle of perfectly identical houses that make up the neighborhoods San Ferdinando and San Carlo.
During the visit we will discover that the 37 small houses, complete with many conveniences for its time, including the vegetable garden, stables and even the bathroom with running water, were made built by the king for his project to create a dedicated colony the work of silk and hosted in his ideal city, Ferdinandopoli.
The construction of the city was never completed, but San Leucio was declared Royal Colony in 1789 with its own laws code very modern which provided for equality between men and women, compulsory education, remuneration based on merit and the foundation of a Charity cash for the elderly and disabled. The Restoration put an end to the enlightened project, but in the meantime from San Leucio the production of fine silks, brocades, lampas and velvets had reached not only the Borboni mansions, but also those of the most important European families and even the White House and Buckingham Palace.
Prowling the halls in which are on show the machines all still fully functional leaves you speechless. Astounding, in fact, the modernity of machinery and systems business that with the introduction of the mechanism that reads the punch cards, called cartoons, were run in a continuous rhythm looms producing fancy fabrics automatically. In mid 1800 800 workers were working here and were working six twisters through which the silk thread was wrapped in coils.
And it was astonished to learn that from every cocoon was extracted and a half kilometers of the precious material considered a symbol of power and beauty. On the ground floor, they can still see the two large twisters that were once driven by hydraulic machines, now for engines, which have been reconstructed on the old existing designs.
Also interesting is the part of the building used as a veritable palace with lounges, the parish church, the bedrooms and the magnificent “Bagno of Maria Carolina”, the spa with bath calidarium of Mondragone gray marble sunken into the floor and embellished with drawings encaustic by Philipp Hackert. In the monumental complex they were also housed the mill and cuculliera, where the Basques silk were reared.
In the western part of the Royal Casino of Belvedere there are a number of Italian gardens placed on different levels and connected by stairs with fountains around which, fruit trees and a garden of citrus trees are planted.
What most wonder is coexistence between the palace and the factory, unique in the history of the crowned families and who wanted to carry along the king and his wife Maria Carolina of Habsburg-Lorraine. It’s also the reason why the complex of San Leucio, with the Palace of Caserta and Aqueduct Carolino, was included in 1997 among the UNESCO World Heritage sites.