Italy marks 250 years since death of architect Luigi Vanvitelli

Vanvitelli, who died on 1 March 1773, was Italy’s most prominent architect of the 18th century.

Italy is holding a series of events in honour of Luigi Vanvitelli, the Italian architect famed for designing the Royal Palace of Caserta, to mark the 250th anniversary of his death.

The main events are taking place at Reggia di Caserta, the vast palace that Vanvitelli designed in the mid-18th century for the Bourbon Kings of Naples.

“Vanvitelli was an absolute giant, a brilliant architect who left tangible signs of his work throughout Italy”, culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said during the launch of the Celebrazioni vanvitelliane programme.

Vanvitelli was born on 12 May 1700 in Naples to an Italian mother and a Dutch father, a landscape painter called Caspar van Wittel, who also used the name Vanvitelli.

The young Vanvitelli was trained in Rome by Nicola Salvi, the architect who designed the Trevi Fountain, before coming to the attention of Pope Clement XII who engaged him in various papal projects in the Marche region.

Vanvitelli was then tasked with carrying out studies to stabilise the dome of St Peter’s after it developed cracks. He also restructured the interior of Rome’s Basilica di S. Maria degli Angeli and painted a fresco of angels in the vault of the Basilica di S. Cecilia.

Vanvitelli is best remembered however for the Reggia di Caserta, a final triumph of the Italian Baroque, commissioned by Charles VII of Naples in an ambitious bid to rival the Palace of Versailles.

Completed in 1845 after almost 100 years of construction, the sumptuous palace has 1,200 rooms and 34 magnificent staircases, surrounded by sprawling gardens, fountains and waterways.

Vanvitelli died on 1 March 1773 at Reggia di Caserta which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and can be visited all year round.

Photo credit: Takashi Images /