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The Royal Bourbon Hunting Grounds at Licola
Licola today is a beach community that starts just to the north of the Cuma hill (a few miles north of the Bay of Pozzuoli) and extends for about 10 km northwards. It is a strip of territory about 3 km wide. Today it is divided administratively into two parts: Licola Centro (or Borgo) and Licola Lido (beach). The name Licola derives from follicole, a dialect form of follaghe—Fulica atra—the crane-like bird known commonly as the coot. Licola Borgo contains what is left of the buildings that were the center of the Royal Hunting Grounds of Licola. It is on the list of the so-called 22 Royal Bourbon sites, properties of the royals ranging from large palaces to smaller hunting grounds such as this one. (The complete list is shown in the box on the right.)
The dovecote and stables on theThe first mention of such buildings at Licola goes back only to 1804 under Ferdinand IV. It is, thus, well past the great age of Bourbon sites initiated by the king’s father, Charles III, who abdicated to return to Spain in 1759. There is however, documentation of that area up to and including Lago Patria a few miles farther north being used by the Bourbons for hunting as early the 1740s. At the time of the Bourbons (1734-1860) the area was still a swampy body of water called Lake Licola, later dried up as part of a land reclamation project. Although documentation from 1804 exists as to the ongoing construction of the grounds for Ferdinand IV, there are no records, as far as I know, as to what happened to the project a few months later when French forces invaded the kingdom and Ferdinand was forced to flee to Sicily. My guess is that the site was used sparingly under the French decade of Murat and subsequent Bourbon years after the restoration (1815). There is no special record of how it was used after the unification of Italy (1860).
Royal Hunting Grounds at Licola
The former hunting lodge/residence and adjacent out-buildings are substantially intact and still standing, although degraded. The main building today serves as the seat of a local environmental protection agency. The premises were “royally large”—that is, with a main residence, a chapel, stables and servants quarters—but otherwise in simple limestone construction and undistinguished as an architectural landmark.
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