The old town (Caserta Vecchia), founded by the Lombards in the 8th century, lies on hills 3 miles (5 km) north-northeast of the modern city, which was a village known as Torre belonging to the Caetani family of Sermoneta until the construction there of the Bourbon Royal Palace in the 18th century.
San Leucio, 2 miles (3 km) north, is a village founded by Ferdinand IV, king of Naples, in 1789; it has large silk factories. In the Italian Risorgimento (movement for political unity), the Battle of the Volturno (1860), in which the nationalist leader Giuseppe Garibaldi defeated the Neapolitan forces, was fought around Caserta. In World War II the royal palace served for a time as the headquarters of the Allied command, and the surrender of the German army in Italy was signed there on April 29, 1945. The palace (1752-74), with a richly decorated interior including a sumptuous chapel and theatre, stands in an extensive park with famous gardens.