Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Jan 2010

Royal Palace Naples
Royal Palace Capodimonte
Royal Palace Portici

Royal Palace Caserta
villa d'Elboeuf in Portici
Villa Favorita
Palazzo d'Avalos Procida
Lake Agnano
San Leucio
Casino del Fusaro
Palace at Quisisana
Demanio di Calvi

The Riserva Caccia di Fasano di Maddaloni

The strange name…the thing with ‘Fasano’…nah, I’ll tell you later. (Hang in there.) This is one of the 22 Royal Bourbon sites (complete list, right) that never actually belonged to the Bourbon kings, although it might just as well have. Charles III was extremely interested in the town of Maddaloni, near Naples, since it was right next door (just to the SE) from where his new city (and palace) of Caserta would rise. The Maddaloni valley would eventually be spanned by the spectacular Carolino (or Vanvitelli) Aqueduct (image, below), one of the engineering marvels of the 1700s. But that was still in the future when the new young king
he arrived in Italy in 1734. Thinking ahead, he coferred the title of “City” on Maddaloni, the center of a large feudal holding in the hands of a significant family in the history of feudalism in southern Italy, the Carafa della Spadera. The Maddaloni fief had been in their hands since the 1400s. Maddaloni, itself, as a place name goes back to about 800 and was the name of the local castle. The town, itself, is on the site of ancient Calatia, an important town to both the Romans and their fierce historical enemies, the Samnites and one that they contested on various occasions.

King Charles (with his “You may call your burg a city now”) got off on the right foot with duke Marzio Domenico IV Carafa. Charles also found the duke in possession of some fine ducal digs, the Casino di Starza Penta, a building mentioned by name in the 1550 in documents and restored in the 1600s and transformed into an elegant “hunting lodge” at the center of a large game preserve, itself part of a vast agricultural enterprise. Charles III was often a guest at the duke’s place for the hunt, and we find the “Casino della Starza” on the list of Royal Hunting Reserves (Reali Cacce di Terra di Lavoro e loro adiacenze) by G.A.Rizzi Zanonni (1736-1814) published in 1784 and again in 1808 in his Atlante geografico del Regno di Napoli. (The name Terra di Lavoro is the old name for parts of the modern region of Campania.) The hunting grounds included parts of the Maddaloni Valley, now spanned by the aqueduct. (There is no record of the conversation between the king and the duke when the latter was informed that his game preserve was about to be turned into a giant construction project.) The Matthews Grand Encyclopedia of Implausible Historical Conversations (MGEIHC) does record this exchange between Charles III and architect, Luigi Vanvitelli, however:

King: "Larry, listen up for a sec."
Vanvitelli: "Sire? Sock it to me."
King: "I figure this new Caserta Palace is going to need about one zillion gallons of water per second. So --here, help me unfold the chart-- maybe we need a little waterway. Check Home Depot; I think it's open on weekends. All you have to do is start up here, right between the first two S's in Mississippi and bring it through this mountain, pop it across this valley, then through this other mountain and bring it out right here above the fountains of the palace. I make it about 40 km (although the French have not yet  invented the metric system. I am farseeing, as you can far-see!) and Bob's your uncle, you're in! How about about it, Larry, can you do that for me?"

Vanvitelli: "Consider it done, sire." (Luigi is heard to murmur as he exits, aiming for stage left but falling into the orchestra pit...'Are you KIDDING ME?! I should have been a great painter like my old man. No, I had to be a great architect. And who is this uncle Roberto he speaks of? I have no uncle Roberto.')

The Sterza di Penta hunting lodge, itself, remained in private hands until the unification of Italy in 1860 and well into the age of united Italy. It was expropriated in 1939. Today it is restored and houses, appropriately, the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Calatia.

Oh, fasano. Don’t waste your time (like some people I know) looking for Fasano di Maddaloni as a place name. It doesn’t exist. Fasano is a dialect form for the modern Italian fagiano—pheasant. Fasano is close to Latin (phasianus), French (faisan) and Spanish (faisà) (Charles III's native language, by the way). In German, it's Fasan, so maybe Goethe went hunting here, too. The crowned heads of Europe had apparently developed some sort of fowl Esperanto, which, now that you bring it up, uses fazano. So, it's not The Fasano di Maddaloni Hunting Reserve, but rather The Royal Pheasant Hunting Reserve. No, I don’t know what the king and duke did if they came across a non-pheasant fowl. I like to think they blew it to smithereens, anyway.

The MGEIHC also records this exchange between Charles III and the duke:

King: "Duke, my noble underling -- rise and shine! Get your gear. Get mine, too, while you're at it. We're off to stalk the wild fasano!"
Duke: "Fagiano, sire?"
King: "That's what I said--fasano. Are you deaf?"
Duke: "No, sire. We shall stalk the fasano!"  (Duke is heard to murmur as he walks straight into a cross-fire from his own underlings who are taking pot-shots at pigeons, 'Gesù, when is this guy going to learn some Italian?')

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