Discover the two treasures of ancient Tivoli – the Villa Adriana and the Villa d'Este, both of them UNESCO world heritage sites. Join your expert guide on this tour and make the most of your day in Tivoli!
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About 30 km east of the city center of Rome lies bucolic Tivoli. Take a day trip to where the Aniene river creates falls as it leaves the Sabine hills. Tivoli has been refuge for the rich and powerful since the olden days – and you will understand why! Your expert guide will introduce you to the two main attractions in Tivoli – Emperor Hadrian's Villa Adriana, and the Renaissance jewel famous for its garden of wonders, the Villa d'Este.
Built as a private summer retreat between 118 and 134 AD, Hadrian's Villa was from its beginnings a vast open-air museum for the finest architecture of the Roman world. The grounds of the Imperial palace covered an area of 120 hectares (300 acres) and were filled with full-scale reproductions of the emperor's favorite buildings in Greece and Egypt. Although excavations on this site began as early as the 16th century, many of the ruins scattered in the surrounding fields have yet to be identified.
The grounds of the villa make a very picturesque site for a picnic, with scattered fragments of columns lying among olive trees and cypresses. For an idea of how the whole complex would have appeared in its heyday, take a look at the scale model in the building beside the parking lot. The most important buildings are signposted and several have been partially restored or reconstructed. One of the most impressive is the so-called Maritime Theater, a round pool with an island in the center, surrounded by columns. The island, reached by means of a swing bridge, was probably Hadrian's private studio, where he withdrew from the cares of the Empire to indulge in his two favorite pastimes – painting and architecture.
There were also theaters, Greek and Latin libraries, two bath houses, extensive housing for guests and the palace staff, and formal gardens with fountains, statues, and pools. Hadrian also loved Greek philosophy, and one part of the gardens is thought to have been Hadrian's reproduction of the Grove of Academe, where Plato lectured to his students. He also had a replica made of the Stoà Poikile, a beautiful painted colonnade in Athens, from which the Stoic philosophers took their name. This copy enclosed a great piazza with a central pool. The so-called Hall of the Philosophers close to the Poikile was probably a library. The most ambitious of Hadrian's replicas was the Canopus, a sanctuary of the god Serapis near Alexandria.
In 1550 Cardinal Ippolito d'Este was appointed Governor of Tivoli. He wasted no time in taking possession of the Governor's palace, located in a former Benedictine monastery, which he asked Pirro Ligorio to remodel to his taste.
The Villa d'Este's fame, however, is due more to its gardens than to the building itself. Each alley, path, or avenue reveals a new mossy fountain in a carefully landscaped vista - there are nearly five hundred fountains altogether. This most famous of Italian-style gardens, which has been widely imitated, reverberates with the sound of so many fountains that it inspired the Romantic composer Franz Liszt to write a piano suite called "Fountains of the Villa d'Este".
Guide for one to 20 persons: € 224.66 per group
Please Note: Admission tickets for Villa Adriana included. Admission tickets for Villa d'Este are NOT included in the above price. You must purchase your tickets at the respective sites directly.
Villa d'Este admission tickets:
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