Reggia di Caserta being 'ruined' (3)

Flooring, furniture 'under stress' they warn

(ANSA) - Caserta, October 3 - The Bourbon royal palace or Reggia of Caserta is being "ruined" by a visitor surge, unions who work at the famed site said Tuesday.
    "The decorated flooring and the exquisite furniture is under great stress, especially because of the free Sunday openings at the beginning of the month," a union spokesman said, urging the openings to be reduced.
    The palace once used by the kings of Naples, is an 18th-century former royal residence near Naples and a UNESCO World Heritage site open to the public, whose new director Mauro Felicori was appointed through an international application process.
    The Reggia, built to rival Louis XIV's Paris chateau of Versailles by the dynasty that ruled Naples, saw a string of structural collapses in recent years, while its grand waterworks ran dry because of local farmers punching holes in pipes for their crops.
    The government stepped in and ordered a massive renovation project that was completed last NOvember.
    The massive palace was dreamed up by Bourbon King Charles III, who hoped it would one day be as famous as 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, Natalie Portman's breakout role.
    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.