Fear and shadows at Palazzo Reale

I woke up at 7 o’clock by myself that day. Usually I don’t. I have to set the damn alarm clock to shoot me from two positions: two alarms, set for two waking hours in case I snooze the first. The reason I did that was simple: we had the flight in the afternoon and as I hate to fly, fear and obsession were onto me like two crazy horses, pulling madly a cart towards its own destruction. The wait is what was going to kill me that day. I have no problem just getting at the airport in the morning, jumping on the plane and taking off in a few minutes. I guess I don’t have time to build my damn anxiety but…

Here we are, in Naples, awoken from 7:00 o’clock in the morning, checking out at maximum 12:00 and having the flight (if not delayed) at 17:00. We had to kill time so this half of the day we reserved for getting inside the Royal Palace of Naples, somehow a centerpiece of the city when you start touring it by foot.

A very twisted history

I’ll admit that I never knew Italy’s history well, at least not after the point that the Roman Empire fell. There were so many small splits and so many alliances between different parts of this country that it always scared me away when I happened to find myself in front of it. The entrance in the part that can be visited is as twisted as the history. On top of it all, a very good part of the Palace is still in renovation so things can only get complicated from here.

One of the main access gates to the palace, enclosed in scaffolding

I was always fascinated of the big palaces of Europe. After I have visited Versailles when I was a kid, I got a little bit fascinated with the need of the people that built or enlarged these places, for more. Though I can understand the expression “to make a statement” and they justified all these constructions by the political need to show their rivals the power they are able to unleash, the buildings in itself meant nothing. So much art gathered under one roof, so much marble and in the end, so much effort just to have it bombed during the Second World War… what the fuck did it serve to?

The place started its construction sometime during the beginning of the 17th Century, on the grounds of a former residence. It took about 50 years to have it completed (not in the form we see it today) and not sooner than 1644 we could say that they had it finished totally, including the Royal Chapel of Assumption. It was built in order to house King Philip III of Spain as Napoli was part of the Kingdom of Spain at the time but this guy never got to use it but instead, his Viceroy took housing in it. Lucky guy eh?

View from the interior courtyard

The Palace had different other improvements made throughout the history, has added a new wing, a theatre and some modifications to the Central Wing. During the Second World War, it was bombed intensively and because of the occupation it has suffered a lot of priceless losses and many items have disappeared after those moments.

Now, in the building there are two operating theaters, Vittorio Emannuele III National Library and the museum we have visited. This museum is in fact a tour through some of the private chambers of Charles III of Spain and his wife Maria Amalia of Saxony.

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

The insides of “the Beast”

Low light and shaky hands (because of my fear of flying, of course) don’t make a good pair when it comes to shooting some photographs of the interior of this vast place. The private chambers of the Palace are enough to make a normal man feel small but it seems the guys that lived here had no issue with ghosts, big rooms and in general big space. While we, normal folk, struggle for coziness, royalty always struggled to have rooms bigger than a football pitch. They most probably peed themselves when they needed to jump out of the bed and run to the bathroom. Or maybe they had some servants to hold their bedpan. Anyway… huge rooms as usual inside these palaces.

What I noticed and liked a lot is the clocks collection they managed to salvage after the Second World War episode. Impressive clocks, brought here from all the different parts of the world, golden and greatly sculpted especially for that age and time.

The throne it’s a lousy, old piece of cloth that is so badly preserved I wouldn’t use it to chair my child… seems filled with germs

The whole place should have been an iconic building for the power of Spain, as this was the reason it was built in the first place, together with another two, royal edifices and residences close by, in Naples, but it ended with having its facade decorated ONLY with the statues of Italian rulers while no Spanish face resides there. Funny thing. After all the building is on Italian grounds and it would have been weird to look at Spaniards statues.

One of the many clocks I was impressed by, brought from different corners of the world

I guess the most impressed I was by the small things, different figurines that used to decorate the Royal chambers. You can see the delicacy of the craftsmanship of the work on these pieces from far away. The way they were engraving and sculpting the miniatures on these objects was at the highest level possible. Because of the details on these objects, I managed to distract myself from the fear of flying and the thought of my flight falling from the skies a few hours later.

Do they cage princesses as well?

At the end of the tour I was happy that we landed back on Toledo Street, right next to a terrace serving a great tiramisu and some sweet orange juice. I considered it my last meal before facing “the steel winged, flying demon“.

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