San Leucio, the dream of Ferdinand of Bourbon: from the silk museum to the Belvedere

by | 23 Nov 2022 | 0 comments

San Leucio is the only place in the world where Socialism, despite the presence of a monarch, was realized in a concrete way. In 1789 King Ferdinand IV decided to move away from the court and settle in a quiet village behind the Royal Palace of Caserta where the church of S. Leucio is located.

He initially moved there with a group of settlers who grew up and started a family.  Here he decided to give shape to a community endowed with a certain economic autonomy, creating a silk mill and a fabric factory. He regulated it with a written code and gave the village an organic and symmetrical urban structure. Being one of his creatures, he gave it the name of Ferdinandopoli. 

The pillars of the Constitution of San Leucio-Ferdinandopoli were three: education, good faith and merit. Luxury was forbidden and the inhabitants had to dress all the same. School was compulsory, starting from the age of six: the boys were then put to learn a trade according to their attitudes and their desires.

Vaccination against smallpox was mandatory, wives were not required to bring the dowry when they got married and the State undertook to provide the furnished house and what could serve the spouses. 

San Leucio ended in 1861, following the Savoy invasion, the Kingdom was annexed to Piedmont: the silk factory was given to private individuals, and the statute became wastepaper.

Things to do in San Leucio

Not to be missed is the Silk Museum, consisting of several sections: the section of industrial archeology, that is the ancient Silk Factory, the Historical Apartment and the Royal Gardens.  To see are the nine handlooms, all restored and working, to produce brocades, brocades, lampas, damasks and the famous “leuciana blanket” (a magnificent single-spool damask fabric, large, whose production is affirmed in the second half of the nineteenth century). 

The Royal apartment, on the other hand, consists of a series of particularly fascinating rooms, in which silk is always the protagonist. Among all stand out: the Bagno Grande, so-called “Bagno di Maria Carolina”, entirely painted in encaustic style in 1792 by the first court painter, Philiph Hachert; the dining room, painted with stories of the life of Bacchus by Fedele Fischetti; the bedroom, on whose ceiling stands the Aurora, by Giuseppe Cammarano; the Coretto, from which the sovereigns attended the liturgical celebrations in the underlying church of San Ferdinando Re, still open to worship.

In addition, you can visit the House of the Weaver, a typical example of the home of the Leucian worker, furnished with furniture of the early ‘900, where the environment and living conditions of the time is reconstructed.

Also worth visiting is the church of San Ferdinando Re sul Belvedere which was built at the end of the eighteenth century and was obtained by expanding the original chapel (which occupied the current apse) with the adjacent former ballroom.

The environment is presented in a Baroque dress, with the side paret that each have an altar and on its sides two niches, with stucco frame and tympanum, containing as many stucco statues, by Carlo Brunelli.  They represent Faith, Hope, Religion and Charity.

Claudia Ausilio

Archaeologist, journalist, travel designer. My goal is to make my land known to everyone and promote its authenticity with an eye to what is family-friendly and pet-friendly since I am also a mother of a beautiful human child and a furry girl.


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