AKA Naboo from A Galaxy Far, Far Away
Scrolling through Facebook one day I came across an article with a title something like “lesser known places you need to see.” It hooked me, and as I began to scroll through many familiar sites, I came across this location. The Royal Palace of Caserta is known as the Versaille of Italy, as it was built in the same Baroque style. Caserta Palace is actually bigger but unlike in France, where they have monetized Versailles and turned it into a top attraction, Italy has let this once amazing palace languish. When I was scanning the article that’s not why it caught my eye. As soon as I saw the pictures I realized this was a filming site for the Star Wars prequels. The Royal Palace of Caserta served as the interiors of the Palace of Naboo and this geek girl new that her geeky family had to somehow add this on to the trip.
Located only a 45 minute drive from Naples, and about 90 minutes from Amalfi we practically had to drive right by it to return to Rome. Unlike on the approach to Versailles, as we got off the highway the town seemed mostly rolled up. We had heard that many smaller towns in Italy cease to exist for the month of August, but this was the first time this trip we had encountered it. The palace is a bit hidden, and until we were on top of it we saw almost no signage. We parked in the cavernous garage that clearly was newer and had been designed to accommodate many cars, but it was eerily empty. When you come up from the garage, there is a regional train stop that looked unused when we visited. Apparently you can sometimes get a train from the city center right to the palace, but alternatively the palace is not too long a walk from the central train station in town. There was graffiti on some parts of the station and several gates were chained up. The grounds in front were all brown and dry. It looked worse than Versailles does in the winter; the grass was not carefully manicured other than being mowed.
This palace is a lot bigger than Versailles and is has a lot of empty rooms. Some of the rooms are still furnished but for the most part, it’s an enormous empty space. After seeing it in person I can see why Lucas film liked this location – it’s a blank canvas. We had fun taking pics on the steps and throne room seen in the movie. There is a small cafeteria to have snacks, and in the gardens they have carriage rides which we decided to try. While we did get to see the gardens and colorful flowers, most of the fountains were being renovated.
Tip Time We went in 2017 but more recent reviews indicate that the fountains have been repaired. So if you opt for a carriage ride or a long stroll, the experience will be more impressive.
I’m unsure why the Italian government hasn’t invested the resources to turn this place into a top attraction, but in a way I was glad. There is rarely an opportunity to see something as expansive as this without massive crowds. So even though I would definitely describe this as a shabby chic palace in need of major renovation, we enjoyed the short visit. Tickets were not expensive and the kids really enjoyed seeing another movie filming location, especially a Star Wars palace.