23 giugno 2016

Natural Magic: the gardens of Caserta Royal Palace

Venus bath
One of the most amazing events I attended during this year's edition of Smell Festival dell'Olfatto was the virtual tour Addolorata Ines Peduto and Gerardo Pasquale Iodice led us have through the gardens of Caserta Royal Palace.
Of course the Royal Palace is pretty famous for its sumptuous staircases and halls which have also been portrayed in various movies. Less often people have heard about the importance of its gardens built in the middle of the XVIII century while the curiosity of botanists and the cravings of colonial exoticism teased the fantasies of the West with endemic species coming from Eastern and Western Indies. That's how the English Garden and the Old Wood of the Palace were born.

Ines Peduto with the botanical species
Now that's not hard to imagine  the courtesans wonder while briefing the balsamic freshness of eucaliptus or stepping on drief camphor leaves, pretty new intense aromas mixing with the glorious and decandent bloom of ancient roses in such beauty as stunning as the theatrical view of Venus Bath.

Centifolia or cabbage rose

The Old Wood, a wood that exixsted before the Garden was built, was part of a garden built in the XVI century that was later added to the Palace of the Noble Casertan Acquaviva family. This space is the focus of the walk proposed by Ines Peduto, where it is possible to find traces of the age of Giovanni Battista della Porta, one of the first admirer of plants and gardens who wrote about the “Magiae Naturalis”, the Natural Magic that's the Smell Festival 2016 theme.

Camphor leaves
Samples of branches, gems, leaves and flowers not yet totally faded have been the tactile and smelly living proof of the magic of the English Garden, built in 1786 under the reigh of Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples. Amazing part of this catalog is the Malaleuca, a tree from New Caledonia which dried bark looks like paper. Or the unusual fruits of the first camellia japonica that's been introduced in Europe in XVIII century, another symbol of the Great past of the Court that was able to gather around this area the best architects and scholars from all over the world.

Malaleuca bark - Camelia japonica fruits

More info about the tour scheduled for saturday June, 25 can be found on the website of Smell Festival.

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