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Tivoli

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  Villa d'Este
Hadrian's Villa
Guided Tours
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Romeguide:one of the many fountains of Villa d'Este in Tivoli
Romeguide:one of the many fountains of Villa d'Este in Tivoli
Romeguide:one of the many fountains of Villa d'Este in Tivoli

Above: three of the many fountains of Villa d'Este in Tivoli

Right outside Rome, Tivoli, the ancient Tibur, was already a favourite holiday resort for the Romans as well as a place for the worship of local divinities. It is now the site of the Villa Gregoriana, a fine Cathedral, the renowned Rocca Pia, and, above all, the Villa d'Este, with an Italian garden deservedly famous for its magic atmosphere.

Built on the ruins of a Roman villa, it was first a Benedictine convent and then the Governor's Palace, and as such was magnificently restored by Pirro Ligorio on commission of the governor at the time, Ippolito d'Este, around 1550. After various vicissitudes it became the property of Austria, was returned to the Italians in 1918, then re­stored before the monumental part and the immense park were opened to the public. Of note on the grounds is the Loggia by Pirro Ligorio, which is the finest part of the main facade which faces the city and the mountains.

The Italian gardens, with their geometric compartmentalisation, the five hundred fountains, the age and rarity of the trees, is certainly one of the finest gardens to be found both in and outside Italy. No visit is complete without a stop at the Grotto of Diana, richly stuccoed with mythological scenes, the so called « Rometta » or little Rome, with reproductions in an allusive key of parts of the city (the Isola Tiberina, the ruins), the various Fountains of Bacchus, the Organ Fountain (the water organ was designed by Claudio Vernard), the fountains of Proserpine, of the Dragons (signed by Ligorio), of the « Mete », of the Eagles, and so on, up to the romantic Cypress Rotonda, considered one of the most enchanting elements in both garden and villa. Even in this end of thè garden signs of antiquity are present, as witnessed by the ruins of a Roman villa to the right of the Cypress Rotonda.

  Hadrian's Villa

Tivoli is also the site of an imposing architectural complex dating to Hadrian's time. This emperor's gifts as an architect can be seen in the series of palaces, baths, theatres, etc. which he had built there between 118 and 134 and which were meant to remind him, here in Italy, of the places he most loved in Greece and the Near East.

Mentioned for the first time in literature by Flavio Biondo, the Villa, or rather what was left of it, was visited and studied by famous persons (Pope Pius II, Pirro Ligorio) and excavations were carried out particularly in the 18th century (Piranesi made engravings of some parts). Bought by the Italian government in 1870 from the Braschi family which had owned it since the beginning of the 19th century, the villa was restored, while many of the works of art (especially sculpture) from the site can now be seen in the rooms of the Museo Nazionale Romano. Mention will be made only of some of the best known and important places in the complex. For an idea of the entire set-up (and as orientation) a study of the model at the entrance, even though it is more a matter of hypothesis, can be useful. The monuments include the Stoà Poikile (commonly called Pecile) and the Naval Theater, the Small Thermae and the Great Thermae, the Canopus (with obvious reference to the sanctuary in Egypt), the Museum (with the precious objects found in the excava­tions, including a copy of the Amazon by Phidias), and lastly the Emperor's Palace subdivided into three blocks and aptly described as a « city in the shape of a palace ».

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see also...

Capitoline Hill

Circus Maximus

Colosseum

Domus Aurea

Ostia

Pantheon
Trevi Fountain
Tivoli
Quirinal Palaces
Vatican Gardens
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photos of Tivoli

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Romeguide: Villa d'Este

Villa d'Este in Tivoli

Romeguide: Mosaic with masc form Hadrian's Villa

Mosaic with masks

Romeguide: Mosaic with doves from Hadrian's  Villa

Mosaic with the doves

Romeguide: Model of Hadrian's Villa

Model of Hadrian's Villa

Romeguide: section of the Canopus on the grounds of Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli

above and below: two sections of the Canopus on the grounds of Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli

Romeguide: section of the Canopus on the grounds of Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli

Romeguide: section of the Canopus on the grounds of Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli by night

View on the fountain by night

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