On Christmas morning, the senior missionaries who were staying in Caserta drove to the Caroline Acquaduct in Maddaloni, Italy, a few miles outside Caserta. It was very foggy when we first arrived and it made viewing the magnificent structure difficult, but some of us hiked to the top anyway. Once at the top, we were able to watch as the fog dissipated and the sun began to shine on the acquaduct. Some of the missionaries had been on a tour of the Royal Palace of Caserta the night before.
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Valle di Maddaloni, Campania
The grandeur of the Royal Palace of Caserta was surpassed only by the lavish abode of Louis XIV at Versailles. The Reggia was the largest building to be erected in Europe during the 18th century and housed not only the royal family, but the kingdom’s administrative quarters, stables, fisheries and botanical garden. In an attempt to administer the ungovernable Kingdom of Naples, Charles III commissioned Luigi Vanvitelli to design and build the complex in 1752. The plans included an immense park with fountains and waterfalls that would slope down towards the palace in a magnificent 2.5 mile water-way.
But where was Vanvitelli to find that much H2O? The solution lay 38 kilometers due east at the springs of Fizzo, in the foothills of Mt. Taburno. Building the aqueduct that would bring the water to Caserta took 9 years and was one of Vanvitelli’s greatest engineering feats. Painstaking calculations were needed so that the water could flow at a precise slope of half a centimeter per every linear meter and scientists at the time were skeptical that this could be achieved. The entire route was built underground; six mountains were tunneled and 67 inspection turrets were built along the way.
The aqueduct surfaced at only one point along its gently slanting route at the Valle di Maddaloni. The beautiful triple-arched bridge was based on ancient Roman designs and, with a span of 529 meters, it was longest in Europe.
A hundred years later, the bridge at Maddaloni was the scene of one of the decisive battles of the Unification of Italy.
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|Caroline Acquaduct in Maddaloni, Italy|
|Acquaduct clothed in fog|
|Removing mud from the boots|