Italy has many better art collections, and the trip here inevitably involves a change of buses or a taxi ride. That said, there’s plenty to lure you out to the former hunting preserve of the Bourbon kings. For one, the bosco reale (royal woods) are one of the few parks in Naples, and sharing the greenery with picnicking families can be a refreshing change of scenery. The core of the collection is from Elisabetta Farnese, the duchess of Parma who handed down the family’s paintings to her children and grandchildren after she became Queen of Spain, and they in turn brought them back to Italy when they became kings of Naples. By the time the works got here, many of the best had found their way into other collections, and what remains includes a roster of the greatest Italian and Northern masters, but often secondary works. In fact, the two standout pieces here have nothing to do with the Farneses. Caravaggio executed his dramatic “Flagellation of Christ” for Naples’ Church of San Domenico Maggiore and it was brought here in the 1970s, not long after another Caravaggio was stolen from a church in Palermo. In the contemporary galleries hangs Andy Warhol’s “Mount Vesuvius,” an almost-corny comic-book depiction of an eruption that renders the mountain as an age-old icon of volatility. If you’ve found other royal palaces around town fairly empty, it’s because many of the furnishings are upstairs here, in the Royal Apartments. There’s enough Sèvres and Meissen to put together a royal feast of epic proportions. Some of the pieces, the Capodimonte ceramics, were fired right here on the grounds throughout the 18th century.
- Frommer's Staff