Caserta's royal palace 'at serious risk'

Parts of facade fall twice in 10 days, family narrowly missed

Caserta's royal palace 'at serious risk'

(ANSA) - Caserta, October 5 - Caserta's arts superintendent on Friday appealed to the Italian government to help preserve the city's treasured Bourbon royal palace after recent instances of damage that nearly hurt visitors. "It's a serious situation," said Paola Raffaella David. "In the last 10 days two parts of the facade have collapsed due to deteriorating iron clamps that anchor the marble structures". On Thursday a family was nearly struck by a piece of the building's cornice that fell to the ground. Ten days earlier a piece of a facade's tympanum fell into a square. David said the culture ministry has promised to "immediately" secure all structures around entrances to the Reggia in order to protect the thousands of daily visitors. The Reggia di Caserta has been a World Heritage Site since 1997. The massive palace was dreamed up in the 18th century by Bourbon King Charles III, who hoped it would one day rival Versailles. Designed as the new capital of the Bourbon Kingdom, it was lost to the Napoleonic invasion for several years but returned to the Bourbon House in 1815. In 1860, it became the property of the royal family of the new Italian state, the Savoys, before finally ending up in State hands in 1919. The palace complex, which has won awards for its beautiful gardens, was based on designs by papal architect Luigi Vanvitelli and took nearly 100 years to complete. The courtyards, vestibules, park and Palatine Chapel of the landmark have featured in several Hollywood movies. The building's interior appeared in George Lucas's second Star Wars trilogy, where it was the home of the young Queen Amidala. It has also doubled as the Vatican in two more recent blockbusters, Mission: Impossible III and Ron Howard's adaptation of the Dan Brown prequel to the Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons.

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