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The strange name…the thing with ‘Fasano’…nah, I’ll tell you later. (Hang in there.) This is one of the 22 Royal Bourbon sites (complete list, right) that never actually belonged to the Bourbon kings, although it might just as well have. Charles III was extremely interested in the town of Maddaloni, near Naples, since it was right next door (just to the SE) from where his new city (and palace) of Caserta would rise. The Maddaloni valley would eventually be spanned by the spectacular Carolino (or Vanvitelli) Aqueduct (image, below), one of the engineering marvels of the 1700s. But that was still in the future when the new young king he arrived in Italy in 1734. Thinking ahead, he coferred the title of “City” on Maddaloni, the center of a large feudal holding in the hands of a significant family in the history of feudalism in southern Italy, the Carafa della Spadera. The Maddaloni fief had been in their hands since the 1400s. Maddaloni, itself, as a place name goes back to about 800 and was the name of the local castle. The town, itself, is on the site of ancient Calatia, an important town to both the Romans and their fierce historical enemies, the Samnites and one that they contested on various occasions.
King Charles (with his “You may call your burg a city now”) got off on the right foot with duke Marzio Domenico IV Carafa. Charles also found the duke in possession of some fine ducal digs, the Casino di Starza Penta, a building mentioned by name in the 1550 in documents and restored in the 1600s and transformed into an elegant “hunting lodge” at the center of a large game preserve, itself part of a vast agricultural enterprise. Charles III was often a guest at the duke’s place for the hunt, and we find the “Casino della Starza” on the list of Royal Hunting Reserves (Reali Cacce di Terra di Lavoro e loro adiacenze) by G.A.Rizzi Zanonni (1736-1814) published in 1784 and again in 1808 in his Atlante geografico del Regno di Napoli. (The name Terra di Lavoro is the old name for parts of the modern region of Campania.) The hunting grounds included parts of the Maddaloni Valley, now spanned by the aqueduct. (There is no record of the conversation between the king and the duke when the latter was informed that his game preserve was about to be turned into a giant construction project.) The Matthews Grand Encyclopedia of Implausible Historical Conversations (MGEIHC) does record this exchange between Charles III and architect, Luigi Vanvitelli, however:
The Sterza di Penta hunting lodge, itself, remained in private hands until the unification of Italy in 1860 and well into the age of united Italy. It was expropriated in 1939. Today it is restored and houses, appropriately, the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Calatia.
Oh, fasano. Don’t waste your time (like some people I know) looking for Fasano di Maddaloni as a place name. It doesn’t exist. Fasano is a dialect form for the modern Italian fagiano—pheasant. Fasano is close to Latin (phasianus), French (faisan) and Spanish (faisà) (Charles III's native language, by the way). In German, it's Fasan, so maybe Goethe went hunting here, too. The crowned heads of Europe had apparently developed some sort of fowl Esperanto, which, now that you bring it up, uses fazano. So, it's not The Fasano di Maddaloni Hunting Reserve, but rather The Royal Pheasant Hunting Reserve. No, I don’t know what the king and duke did if they came across a non-pheasant fowl. I like to think they blew it to smithereens, anyway.
The MGEIHC also records this exchange between Charles III and the duke:
King: "Duke, my noble underling--rise and shine! Get your gear. Get mine, too, while you're at it. We're off to stalk the wild fasano!"
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