After lunch, we drove back down into 'new' Caserta, to the large underground parking garage located adjacent to the palace. As we drove in, it seemed that the earlier military proceedings in front of the palace were now finished, so likely we could now go in.
It was warm and brilliantly sunny as we walked from the parking garage entrance to the main entrance of the palace. The building is indeed monumental and imposing, stretching impressively off to the left and right as we approached. Once inside, we elected to buy tickets just to visit the royal apartments (it is also possible to buy admission to the royal gardens, but we weren't in the mood for that today).
We walked up through the main hall, finished in a fantastically elaborate Baroque style (so fantastically elaborate, in fact, that it served as the filming location for several major movies, such as Star Wars, the Da Vinci Code, and Mission Impossible). Once up on the main floor, we began by touring the new apartments. This series of rooms were built in the 1800s in a neoclassical style, and house some particularly monumental and impressive rooms, including the throne room, the "Mars room", and the council hall.
Paintings, Reggia di Caserta
We then moved to the "old apartments", built in the 1700s and in a smaller, more baroque-type style. Definitely more closed-in feeling but still sumptuously decorated, with rich wallpapers and furnishings.... and lots of murano glasswork chandeliers.
By now the afternoon was growing long, and we were pretty satisfied with our day's visiting. We headed back to the car and began the forty-minute ride back to Avellino, arriving back at my Aunt's house at around 5:30pm. My aunt and my mom were, as is customary for them at this time, upstairs in my Aunt's flat watching TV.
We spent the evening taking it relatively easy. After a bit more conversation with my mother and my aunt, my sister and I went out for a drive around downtown Avellino. I wanted to show Elvira the downtown building in which my mother lived in the 1940s, when her family was staying in Avellino (and not up at the family farm in Mercogliano). It is quite an attractive and grand-looking edifice, and I had Elvira stand on the side of the street while I steadied my camera atop the car for a long-exposure night shot.
Typical afternoon routine
We returned back to the house, where we spent the next hour meeting and chatting with a few more cousins: cousin Gino, husband of cousin Anna, and, finally, my lively cousin Giovanni - always animated and always fun to talk with (and his english is pretty good, too). Anna gave us a tour of her flat, which sits right across from my aunt Rosetta's flat. It's one of the larger flats in the building, and is in my opinion very tastefully finished (all of the flats in the house are quite nice but quite differently styled from each other).
The call for the now-standard 8:30pm dinner with zia Rosetta then ensued. Both my mother and my aunt took issue with the way I peeled my dessert oranges, but otherwise dinner was smooth. That brought us all the way to 10pm., more than late enough to start to feel a bit sleepy-eyed. A full and fun day!