When in Naples there is so much to see that it is difficult to choose the itinerary, the things to do, and what to eat, because being the land of plenty not everything can fit in. Therefore the Museum of Capodimonte may be left behind because it is a little off the beaten busy path of the metropolitan city of Naples.
Located in the Hill of Capodimonte, which used to be a hunting lodge of King Charles of Bourbon (yes, him again the one that built the Royal Palace of Caserta). Capodimonte became royal residence for three dynasties: The Bourbon, the Bonaparte, the Murat, and the Savoy after Italy was united as a monarchy in 1861.
Carlo di Borbone, besides hunting a lot, had a passion for the arts and left us a lot of beautiful palace, collection of art, and even the opera house of Naples, the Teatro San Carlo, downtown Naples.
On the hill of Capodimonte, he wanted to build a huge building to be able to preserve the collection of paintings inherited from his mother Elisabetta Farnese.
Capodimonte ultimately became a Royal residence, although during the Napoleonic domination, as customary for Napoleon, numerous appropriations of works of art occurred, and went to embellish museums and palaces in France. More than three hundred stolen paintings have never returned to Italy.
Only the foresight of Ferdinand of Bourbon (pictured below), allowed to save some of them, which were transferred to Palermo the year before the arrival of the French in Naples. Unfortunately, even during the WWII, paintings were stolen by the German militias, but this time they were recovered.
From the second post-war period, the Royal Palace was finally rearranged and dedicated exclusively to what it was born for: hosting the paintings of one of the oldest and most prestigious collections in the world.
National Museum of Capodimonte today
Today the Reggia is one of the most important art galleries at a regional and national level.
The museum is on three floors, so it is highly recommended to have a guide. As it often happens when there is much to see, one tends to get lost and perhaps miss some important pieces of art.
The first and second floors house the Galleria Nazionale (National Gallery), with paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries.
Farnese Gallery you can admire masterpieces by Botticelli, Masaccio, Tiziano, Vasari, Parmigianino, Caravaggio (Caravaggio below), and many others.
Borgia collection you will find ancient artifacts of Egyptian, Etruscan, Greco-Roman and Far Eastern origin.
The collections dedicated to Neapolitan artists and that of contemporary art, which houses the famous Vesuvius by Andy Warhol, will also win your attention.
Finally, you can visit the royal apartments, where both the Bourbons, the French and the family of the Dukes of Aosta resided; also in this part of the building there is no shortage of tributes to art, with a rich display of porcelain. The delicate porcelain of Capodimonte are a must see as well.
Green as an English Lawn
Furthermore, in the Real Bosco di Capodimonte (Royal forest of Capodimonte), you will be able to observe exotic plants and more than four hundred types of centuries-old trees, such as oaks and chestnuts, and a beautiful view of Naples from above.