The Royal Palace at Caserta, near Naples, Italy: it’s big

A look back (first published 2 December 2015): a few months ago I visited the palace gardens and fell in love with the straight layers of water and fountains that run their length. Their miles of liquid gloss are a luxury above all others in the hot summers of Campania.

The Phraser

The Royal Palace at Caserta The Royal Palace at Caserta

Big is a little word that can’t quite fit all of this palace in.  Size is everywhere but still the giant proved hard to find by car.

We knew we’d reached Caserta but even though we were within metres of the palace we couldn’t see it.  The area was a strange, any-man’s-land of straight roads and plain buildings.

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Fireworks – part of life and death in the south of Italy

A look back (first published on 1 August 2015): the heat last summer in the area around Naples, Italy, was severe, and with it came terrible accidents in the region’s fireworks factories.

The Phraser

Fireworks over the Bay of Naples Fireworks over the Bay of Naples

This summer has been a terrible one for the firework makers of southern Italy.  In a few months there have been explosions in three factories – two of them lethal.

You might think it’s a brutal cost for such fleeting wonder, but here, on the edge of the Bay of Naples, life is never steady or predictable, and the instability and flamboyance of the firework suits it well.

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A ‘sagra’ on an old Roman road north of Naples, Italy

A look back (first published 19 June 2015): many of the villages in the countryside around Naples, and up into the mountains behind, have ‘sagre’ in the summer – food festivals where fresh food is served close to the land it came from.

The Phraser

Bees swarming at the 'Sagra delle antiche taverne' Bees swarming at the ‘Sagra delle antiche taverne’

Sagre‘, and this was our first, are the right-in-the-thick-of-it festival celebrations that usually revolve around food.

Originally the meaning was linked to churches and the Latin word sacrum – holy.  Now they are still about expectation and celebration, but often with a local speciality centre stage rather than the church.

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