We all like freebies, right? Well how about free tickets to over 300 Italian state museums, gardens, monuments and archeological sites? Yes, please!!!
The government initiative called Domenica al museo, or Sunday at the Museum, has been running since July 2014 to encourage people to take more of an interest in the arts. Well you better believe our family will be taking advantage of this awesome initiative!!!
Initially we thought we’d be headed to Pompeii first, but after some research we learned Pompeii is not very stroller friendly because of the huge cobblestone walkways. We’ll wait to explore Pompeii when we get access to a baby carrier for Lorelei.
Brian mentioned a palace near by that a co-worker told him about. The reviews online made The Royal Palace at Caserta a must on our Naples Bucket List. It was close (only 17 miles from the Support Site), kid friendly with amazing gardens for them to run around in and it all looked gorgeous!
But I was nervous… although it would be visually gorgeous, how would a palace keep my kids interest? My kids are still little and I only have one confident reader. Hmm… a photo scavenger hunt it is!!!
I looked online at pictures of the palace and came up with a short list for a photo scavenger hunt the kids could complete. If we got a picture of all the items on the list we would get a treat after the palace visit!
The list also helped them get excited about the palace because they couldn’t believe we would see waterfalls, a sea creature spitting water and some of the other items on the list.
After packing snacks, our list and our stroller (we knew we’d be walking a lot) we were off!
When we arrived there was already a line out the door to enter. We were warned online and by friends that on the first Sunday’s free you have to get anywhere early. I wasn’t keen on Brian’s idea to leave the house at 8am, so we aimed to leave at 10am (which of course meant 10:20am) and we arrived at the palace a little before 11am after parking on the street and walking about half a mile to the front of the palace.
The wait was 10-15 minutes max. My kids can’t get over how many people smoke. Even the vendors will puff smoke all around you.
For the record, when we got to the front of the line the Italians asked in their best English, “Apartments only or apartment and parks?” I took that to mean palace only or palace and gardens… which was correct! Well, we wanted to do both. They then explain in half Italian half English that essentially only the palace is free and it still costs money to do the gardens.
Thankfully the gardens were only €5 per adult and kids were free, although you could tell they didn’t anticipate needing to give us four free kids tickets to enter. Ha!
Upon entering the palace we are immediately met with statues and architecture we could not believe.
What are Brian and Lorelei breaking their necks to see?! Oh you know… just this… on the ceiling…
Then right next to this is the staircase and atrium of the palace that were used in filming the scenes in the Theed Royal Palace for Star Wars: Episode I and II.
Next we wait in another short line to enter the rooms of the palace. The place is so big that even though my kids were running around and making noise while we waited, you honestly couldn’t hear it.
Whats Pierce looking at? Again… a magnificent work of art on the ceiling…
Eliann chose this bed for her room… which of your little ladies wants in on that sleepover?!
I’m going to pretend this is me and some of my girlfriends (whom I miss) hanging out at the palace!!!
They had rooms dedicated to each season. This crazy chandelier was in the ‘Spring Room’ and the kids thought you would want to see this Grandma Ann.
Then amidst all these rooms, there was a Barbie Dream House. We have no idea why it was there because it’s description was in Italian and I didn’t have my Google Translate app handy yet (I do now). But Eliann got a kick out of it especially since we had this exact house thanks to a hand me down from her friend Gaby.
“Maybe the Barbie Dream House was modeled after this palace?” Mmm… don’t think that’s what it said Eliann, but sure!
In terms of volume, the Royal Palace of Caserta is the largest royal residence in the world. At this point we’ve walked one wing of the second floor and have been through at least forty rooms all of which lead into the next and get more extravagant as you go. But there are five floors and 1200 rooms. We would never make it because the kids were already getting squirrelly. Thankfully the whole palace isn’t even open for exploring.
We decide to head out to the gardens for a snack and to find the rest of our photo scavenger hunt items. Have you been keeping track? We’ve already crossed off…
- A lion.
- A staircase with more than 20 steps.
- An angel.
- A painting in the ceiling.
- Something made entirely of gold.
- A chandelier.
- Two beds.
- A horse in a painting.
- A woman holding a baby.
- Someone wearing a hat.
- A sword.
… and on the way out one more…
Heading out to the gardens isn’t like ‘oh look, we’re outside and in the garden.’ No, the layout of this place is crazy! You have the palace and then over two miles worth of garden areas with successions of pools, fountains and cascades adorned by large Italian sculptures along the way.
But we were determined to get to the back of the garden where the waterfalls start… not before pausing for snacks of course.
There are a couple of ways to do this trek. You can walk… you can ride a horse drawn carriage… you can cram into a small bus… or you can rent a bike. We all wanted to ride a bike (of course not possible with the littles) but you can probably guess that we chose the cheapest route and that was to walk… after all running around in the gardens was one of the main reasons I thought the kids would like this.
Hey look a couple walking along with us and they are both wearing red shoes!!! Actually we saw quite a few red shoes so this scavenger hunt item didn’t end up being as hard as we thought it would be.
A purple flower for Lita.
Once we reached the first pool a new form of entertainment came about. Not only did we find the sea creature spitting water, but it turns out there are numerous waterfalls, fountains and fish you can find in every single pool! The carps varied in size from a few centimetres to a couple of feet and my kids were determined to feed every single one… like a whole box of wheat thins was out the door and in the pools. The water is brought to the gardens via an aqueduct, and it’s pouring down a hill located at the very end of the park which was our end goal.
We couldn’t pass up photos with the statues either. #ohbrian
Oh my goodness… are we still walking?! YES. Were there breakdowns and tears?! Yes… almost exclusively from David whose “legs were dying.” And Lorelei who didn’t want to be in the stroller anymore but was taking forever and at times would walk in the opposite direction so we’d have to retrieve the little #crazylolo!
But we had all the time in the world and the weather was perfect and overcast (perhaps in the heat this would have been the worst idea ever with four kids).
And eventually we made it! What do you get to see when you make it to the end? Now I didn’t take these next two pictures but they capture the essence of ‘WOW’ I want you to take in like we did. There were just too many visitors to get as clean a shot of the whole view.
Now here are some of our photos from the back of the gardens.
The way back was so much quicker than the way up just like we promised the kids. They ran almost the whole way and tossed every single last crumb of the wheat thins to the fish. Lorelei took to the stroller again and napped a little on the way back.
Goodbye Royal Palace at Ceserta! Yes we look crazy and Italians stare at us all the time, but at least it’s in amusement and not in horror that we are carting around four little kids on our adventures.
PS. We did cross all the items off our list and our treat, to everyone’s surprise, was finding a Burger King to eat at! Yes we literally pulled off the road to see if it would taste like Burger King from back home. We’d give it a 7 out of 10… but we’ll take a burger after all that walking for sure. Don’t judge… we like our American fast food and pulling over for Italian with all the kids is a lot harder and longer than you’d think… but we’ll get there too.