Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP is the ambassadress of a deeply fascinating land that deserves to be described. We have put together this travel itinerary for the discovery of the DOP towns and villages. Here we’ll tell you about the city of Caserta and its surrounding municipalities. We also provide advice on outfits and a section dedicated to food and wine.
Ready? Let’s go!
Caserta: a journey through artistic, cultural and culinary splendours
A city with a royal past, Caserta is one of the most well-loved travel destinations for the fans of Campania.
The home of princes, counts and kings, it will make you feel part of a world of royalty, thanks to its aristocratic past. That said, Caserta is not just the Palace. The city includes an exceptional artistic heritage within its fertile plains and a series of unmissable locations.
A bit of history
The name, Caserta, derives from the latin Casa Irta and refers to the ancient urban centre of the city of Casertavecchia which, in the Middle Ages, sat at a much higher level than the surrounding plain. Over the centuries, this Campania city was subjected to various forms of subjugation: by the Romans who made it a colony; by the Barbarians with their destructive invasions, through to the Lombards with their battles for succession. Included in the list are also the Swabians, the Angevins and the Aragon. However, the step change took place with the arrival of the noble Acquaviva family who transformed Caserta in the 14th Century from a county into a flourishing principate. The city found its own specific identity thanks to Charles of Bourbon, an illustrious figure who, in the 16th Century, rebuilt the city and now precious UNESCO heritage site: the Reggia di Caserta.
Where to stay during your trip to Caserta
- If you’re a lover of nightlife and culture, choose the historic centre: cafés, nightclubs, restaurants and monuments will welcome you with open arms.
- If, on the other hand, you’re looking for peace and quiet, you should opt for the district of Casertavecchia. This medieval village sits on the hillside at around 10 kilometres from the city and is the ideal place for reaching inner peace and making contact with nature.
- If, however, you prefer a form of intense intimacy, the village of San Leucio, just a 5 minute drive from the centre, will open your heart with its breath-taking views over Caserta.
Pack your bags and we’re off
Caserta is a city that enchants as soon as you get there.
What’s the first thing to do? Take a walk through the narrow streets to get the feel of the city. However, don’t forget to put a pair of comfortable shoes, a capacious back-pack, a water bottle and the inevitable selfie-stick in your suitcase.
The first steps in Caserta: what you cannot miss
- Piazza Dante and the arches of the Quattro cantoni. The older generations of Caserta’s students know this place well and, according to superstition, kept well away from those five arches since going under them meant being tested at school up to 5 times in a day.
- Casertavecchia. Fable like beliefs surround the village of Casertavecchia, which, according to past generations was inhabited by fantastical beasts. How can you argue with legends? Walking through the tiny streets of this medieval village means being immersed in an atmosphere of other times, between crenelated towers, the tiered facade of the Cathedral and the small artisan shops. Who knows how many knights and their ladies stopped here to declare their love…?
The tour has just begun, backpacks on and let’s continue towards the other itineraries of the Campania city and its surroundings.
The Reggia di Caserta
The Reggia di Caserta is one of the most important and amazing royal palaces in the world. It contains one thousand and two hundred rooms, including a library with 3 rooms and a theatre entirely frescoed by the architect of the Palace, Luigi Vanvitelli.
Outside, the more than 3 kilometres of the Royal Park are decorated with statues, fountains, plays of water fed by the Acequedotto Carolino and an English garden with a Doric temple mirrored in a waterlily lake. You can visit it on foot, in a shuttle bus or on a rentable bicycle.
The Reggia di Caserta is one of the 100 most visited monuments in the world.
Since 2016, it has also been the home of our white queen: the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP. In effect, the Reggia’s Royal Stables are the headquarters of our Consorzio di Tutela della Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP. In a unique location, the custodian of both history and beauty, we promote the traditions and art of the entire territory.
For decades, the Reggia has also been the film set for important both Italian and international films and TV series. Amongst the many titles, of note are: Pap’occhio with Diego Abatantuono and Roberto Benigni (1980); Star Wars: Series 1 – The Phantom Menace (1999), The Good Pope: Pope John XXIII (2003), Mission Impossible III (2006), Angels and Demons (2009).
The Acquedotto Carolino
A short drive away, just outside Caserta, you can find the Acquedotto Carolino, in the area of the Valle di Maddaloni.
This marvellous and powerful work was also built by Luigi Vanvitelli, the same architect of the Reggia di Caserta –– in order to answer the water requirements of the Royal Palace, the entire city of Caserta and the adjacent San Leucio. The structure has resisted three violent earthquakes and, under its three tiers of arches, one of the bloodiest encounters between the troops of Garibaldi and the Bourbons took place. In 1997, the Acquedotto Carolino was included, on a par with the Reggia, on the list of UNESCO protected assets. Its mighty arches are well worth a visit, particularly in the warm light of a sunset.
In this district of the main city, one of the obligatory stops must be the complex of the royal Belvedere that, once upon a time, hosted a silk factory. In its rooms, now a museum, you can find the tools used for producing silk and precious fabrics. However, from the Palace’s terrace you can admire the panorama of the city that extends as far as Vesuvius, as long as “Re Nasone” [King Big Nose] doesn’t distract you from the view.
According to the legend, the ghost of King Ferdinand IV wanders through the rooms of the Royal Palace and, it’s also said that he doesn’t mind taking a stroll through the streets of San Leucio which was once known as Ferdinandopoli.
About ten kilometres from the city, you’ll be catapulted into the atmosphere of yesteryear in the medieval village of Casertavecchia. The stone buildings in the narrow streets are the backdrop to the Castle and the Cathedral built in 1100. According to legend, the church was built by a number of fairies who, due to their magical powers, were able to transport the columns now standing inside it.
Mysteries and legends don’t even spare the Norman Tower. It is thought that, Siffridina, the co-parent in law of Frederick II of Swabia, still haunts it. She greatly loved the village and was faithful to the Swabian lineage. However, this loyalty cost her a long imprisonment in the Castello di Trani (in Puglia) on the orders of Charles of Anjou. Alone and abandoned, the separation from her beloved village was so acutely felt that, on her death, her spirit returned to Casertavecchia, finding its home in the castle’s tower. When silence falls, the legend tells us, you can still hear Siffridina.
The Reggia di Carditello
The neo-classical Reggia di Carditello was originally designed for Charles of Bourbon’s hunting expeditions and for breeding horses. It was an estate created for pleasure that Ferdinand of Bourbon, Charles’s son, transformed, in the mid-1700s, into a farm producing many different crops and with a quality cheese dairy production. This uncontaminated estate of 2,100 hectares saw the creation of the first buffalo farm and the building of the first cheese dairy for the manufacture of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana.
Santa Maria Capua Vetere
In the province of Caserta, one town that stands out is Santa Maria Capua Vetere, born out of the ancient remains of the Roman Capua. Here, you should not miss:
- the Amphitheatre, second only to the Colosseum in dimension
- the Mausoleum of ancient frescoes
- the Old Prisons (in the area of San Prisco)
The presence of a funeral monument does not naturally make you think of a place of imprisonment. So why the name Old Prisons? According to ancient beliefs, the Mausoleum was the prison for the gladiators who fought in the Amphitheatre, including the world-famous gladiator Spartacus.
- Another site to visit in Santa Maria Capua Vetere is the Mithraeum, one of the most important religious centres in the world, dedicated to the Persian god Mithras.
Located on the banks of the river Volturno, the fortress-city of Capua offers its visitors a marvellous medieval historic centre and the traces of a remote past belonging to Roman civilisation. Not to be missed are:
- the temple of Diana Tifatina
- the Roman Bridge
- the Castle of the Norman Princes
- Palazzo Fieramosca, inside which, according to tradition, an extremely elegant ghost in medieval clothes wanders around.
This city, as well as being a fascinating town from an artistic point of view, can also testify to the intense production and sale of Buffalo Mozzarella, so much so that it has a buffalo register of the animals raised.
Enjoy! Typical dishes
The traditional cuisine of Caserta can claim a number of showpiece dishes: from pettolelle con fagioli cannellini [fresh pasta with haricot beans], to cianfotta, a stew similar to the Sicilian caponata with vegetables, Caserta black pig salami and, of course, the pizza.
The product that is the symbol of this city in Campania is the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP. In the cheese dairies located in the various municipalities, you can see the buffalo farms in person, taste and buy the white gold of the milk and cheese dairy traditions manufactured according to the ancient arts of its master cheese makers.
So, are you ready to pack your bags and head off in search of the wonders of Caserta? Take lots of pictures and tag us on our Instagram page @mozzarella_dop.