The Villas of Tivoli

Tivoli Travel Blog

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Villa d'Este
Tivoli has been the playground of the rich for more than 2000 years. Powerful Romans built their holiday villas up on the mountain, overlooking the plain. After the fall of the Roman empire Tivoli became an independent rival, but was reconquored and controlled by the Papacy in 1001 CE, and a new generation of rich and powerful built decadent villas. We visited the two villas which have been world heritage listed, the Villa d'Este and Villa Adriana.

Villa d'Este is a beautiful 16th centry villa built for Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este. The house itself is stunning, with perfectly preserved mannerist frescoes covering the walls and ceiling. The highlight of the villa is, however, certainly the gardens - the fountains and terraces of Pirro Ligorio and Tommaso Chiruchi.
Hadrian's Vlla
The combination of leading artist (Ligorio was previously painter for the Pope, until he was fired for criticising Michelangelo's work in St Peters) and skilled hydrolic engineer diverted the flow of water from the mountains into five hundred delightful cascades and fountains, falling through three levels of terraces.

Villa Adriana is now barely more than broken columns and walls, but was once the centre of world power. The Roman Emperor Hadrian disliked his palace on Palatine Hill and so commissioned an enormous Villa in Tivoli, a complex covering more than a square kilometre and more than 30 buildings. The most widely travelled of Roman Emperors, Hadrian took an active role in the architecture, pulling in design elements from around his Empire, creating a villa that so pleased him that he moved his court from Rome to Tivoli. While few original buildings are intact, partial reconstructions show that Hadrian, like the latter architects, used the flow of water from the hills to create a garden of waters.
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Villa dEste
Villa d'Este
Hadrians Vlla
Hadrian's Vlla
Villa dEste
Villa d'Este
Hadrians Vlla
Hadrian's Vlla
Villa dEste
Villa d'Este
Tivoli
photo by: davidx