The Real Site of Persano: a hunting lodge on the banks of the Sele

by Maria Carmela Cato

Among the less known Bourbon places in our region, we find the Real Site of Persano, one hunting lodge which is located in Persano, part of the municipality of Greenhouses, not far from Salerno, between the banks of the Sele and Calore Lucano rivers, near the towns of Eboli, Altavilla Silentina and Campagna, which they were in the eighteenth century full of woods rich in game.

King Charles of Bourbon was a great one hunting enthusiast and in 1752 he built the Real Estate of Persano, entrusting the task to the military engineer Giovanni Domenico Piana, originally from Ponna, a village that at the time was part of the Duchy of Milan.

The Piana demolished a building from the early eighteenth century, built on a ancient medieval village to build a hunting lodge there.

A year later the casino was completely remodeled in style late baroque from Luigi Vanvitelli, architect known for making the famous Royal Palace of Caserta, after the hunting lodge had had some problems of a static nature.

Casino di Persano - lithograph by Georg Abraham Hackert
Casino di Persano - lithograph by Georg Abraham Hackert

The hunting building has a square floor plan with four octagonal towers, is placed on two levels, which can be accessed by passing through a stone entrance portal flanked by two sentry boxes.

The visitor finds himself in an atrium decorated with stuccoes, at the end of which there is a staircase ending with a marble statue depicting a watchdog, most likely made by the famous neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova, who also made the statue of a king for the Bourbons Ferdinand IV currently at Archaeological Museum of Naples.

A new and valuable equine breed was tested at the Real Sito di Persano

King Charles of Bourbon was very fond to the Estate, in fact, he had an equine breeding farm selected by various breeds like that Neapolitan, Sicilian, Calabrian and Apulian with stallions of Andalusian breed e Provencal in order to create a new breed of horses that was also very valuable.

There new equine breed that came out was the very famous Real Race of Persano, selection formed by saddle horses which was then taken to the Royal Palace of Carditello.

The Persano horse breed at the beginning of the 19th century also participated in Napoleonic battles with Joachim Murat king of Naples and the same Napoleon praised both the Neapolitan knights and the horses of this breed, calling them "white devils”For the color of the uniforms worn by the knights.

The casino has hosted also many artists and politicians who marked the era in which they lived, such as the Tsar of Russia Nicholas II, the Austrian statesman Metternich, the German writer Goethe and the first court painter Jakob Filipp Hackert.

The Prussian painter at the Real Sito di Persano finished the pictorial cycle of the four Seasons painting theWinter and representing a hunting scene that took place in the grounds of the property of Charles III, overlooking the hill of Altavilla and on the mountain Sapwood whitewashed.

After the unification of Italy, the breeding of these horses was abandoned together with the Reggia di Persano and with the decree of Minister Ricotti of 1874, the breed of Persano horses was definitively suppressed and sold at auction on the market square of Eboli.

Real Sito di Persano - Horse of Persano breed
Real Sito di Persano - Horse of Persano breed

A few decades later, in 1900, the Ministry of Defense decided to rebuild race through selected mares between the various cavalry regiments.

Currently, the Tenuta di Persano has become a military area and hosts both the Garibaldi Logistics Regiment that the 10th "Naples" Health Department, while the area surrounding the hunting lodge of Persano has become aoasis protected by the WWF and has as its symbol the Otter, typical mammal of the area.

Bibliography

Perillo, M. (edited by), Cappuccio, R., The real dream the Bourbons of Naples, guide to the Bourbon places of Campania, Paparo Editions, 2021

Parabita, E., Naples, the end of an ancient kingdom, Youcanprint, 2012

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