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The immediate surroundings of Caserta boast a few worthwhile archaeological and historic destinations that are unspoiled by international tourism: the ruins of ancient Roman Capua (in the town of Santa Maria Capua Vetere) and its fluvial harbor Casilinium (in the town of Capua), Capua's cathedral, as well as the Basilica di Sant'Angelo in Formis, with its magnificent 11th-century frescoes. All of these attractions make easy day trips from Caserta.

11km (6 1/2 miles) W of Caserta; 28km (17 miles) NW of Naples

A short distance from Caserta, Capua is a sleepy village on a picturesque bend in the Volturno River. Built as a defensive outpost for the bridge and harbor on the river, it still has most of its fortifications intact. The original village was the Roman harbor of Casilinium, which served the nearby town of Capua and guarded the important bridge built by the Romans over the river for the Appian Way (perfectly operational until 1943, when it was bombed by U.S. forces). When ancient Capua was destroyed by the Saracens in A.D. 840, its inhabitants fled here, salvaging all they could from their old town -- including its name. Repeatedly besieged by various powers until the unification of Italy in 1860, it was the seat of a bishopric and played an important religious role, which is still visible in its many churches.