Montedi di Procida on Lake Fusaro

Casina Vanvitelliana

In around 1752 the then thinly inhabited area of Fusaro in the province of Naples, became the hunting and fishing reserve of the Bourbons. King Ferdinand IV introduced the cultivation of mussels and oysters and in 1782 he commissioned the architect Carlo Vanvitelli to build a hunting and fishing lodge on the eastern shore of the lake. The building became one of the finest and unique examples of late baroque architecture. The polygonal pavilion, which is surrounded by the waters of Lake Fusaro, was built on two levels with protruding and terraced bodies on two floors.

The interior walls were painted by Jakob Philipp Hackert*. The walls displayed four large paintings depicting the four seasons showing the panorama seen through the windows. The lines of the horizon in the paintings match the extensions of the real horizon seen through the windows. The original paintings disappeared during the revolution of 1799, but reproductions made from drafts were put in their place in 2001. There is a stunning painting by Hackert of a shooting event on the lake, featuring the Lodge, in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples.

The Lodge, known as Casina Vanvitelliana, was used as the residence of illustrious guests, such as Francis II of Habsburg-Lorraine who stayed here in May 1819. The building played host to many royals and presidents, including the Czar of Russia as well as the composers Rossini and Mozart.

Much of what one sees today is the result of recent restoration. On the ground floor, the central circular hall displays a green marble Baroque mantelpiece. Its twin, once on the opposite side of the hall was removed during the Second World War. The original antique floor with floral design is also gone, and nothing remains of the frescoed vault adorned with themes of the hunt, of fishing and nature.

*Jakob Philipp Hackert is a wonderful landscape painter who was born in 1737 in Prenzlau, which is about 70 miles north of Berlin. In his time he was an extremely revered landscape painter, working mainly in Italy.

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