MAY 14,2014 - MAY 14,2014 (1 DAYS)
Villa d'Este, Tivoli:
No other word than sensational. Majestic. Villa d’Este is an outstanding, unforgotten paradise of beauty, splendor and Italian gardening tradition. A grandiose collection of gardens, fountains, frescoes, grottoes, plays of water, hilly landscape, utmost tranquile atmosphere and antiquity. Villa d'Este is an UNESCO world heritage list.
Visiting Hours: from 08.30 – closed one hour before sunset.
The ticket office closes one hour before the closing of the monument.
The hydraulic organ of the Organ Fountain is active daily, from 10.30, every two hours. The Fontana della Civetta functions daily, from 10.00, every two hours.
May - mid-October: € 11. Reduced: € 7.
mid-October - April: € 8, Reduced: € 4.
Villa d'Este by night: from July, 4th to September, 13th every Friday and Saturday from 20.30 to midnight (23.00 last entrance):
- full ticket € 11,00.
- reduced ticket € 7,00 (14-18 years and over 65 upon presentation of identity card).
- free ticket until 13 years.
- WARNING: No credit cards accepted !
How to reach Villa d’Este:
Metro + Bus:
Take the Rome Metro to Ponte Mammolo (Line B). Buy a bus ticket (COTRAL bus line) Roma-Tivoli. Go down one floor and catch the BLUE COTRAL bus to Tivoli (every 10-20 minutes). The service is frequent and convenient. The ride to Tivoli takes approx. 1 hour. The bus driver will notify loudly on Villa d'Este stop. it can be a little scary, as there is no indication of what stop you're at, no signs or anything. When you get to a little hill top village of Tivoli, after a little over an hour on the bus, that is where you get off, and you should see brown signs for the Villa d'Este.
By train:Roma-Pescara Line, Stazione Tivoli;
By car:Autostrada A24, exit: Tivoli;
- Go and spend at least four hours to fully experience Tivoli Villa and Gardens.
- No need for a tour guide.
- Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes.
- Avoid coming in a rainy day. In a very hot day come in early morning or late afternoon. There is a permanent breeze in this hilly place. Cool in the shade of the trees and mist from the many fountains.
- Bring with you a packaged meal. No need for water.
- You'll take tens or hundreds of photos.
- Walk along the Gardens' terraces downward - from up to down in a zig-zag way. That's the only way to cover all the hidden gems.
On 9 September 1550, Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (1509-72) (son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia and grandson of Pope Alexander VI) arrived in Tivoli, having obtained the post of governor of the town. The official residence assigned to him in Tivoli, part of the monastery of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, did not suit him. He therefore decided to build a splendid villa with gardens. He had entirely reconstructed to plans of Pirro Ligorio, carried out under the direction of the Ferrarese architect-engineer Alberto Galvani, court architect of the Este. The design is traditionally attributed to Pirro Ligorio (1500-83). The church and monastery stood at the top of a hill, with slopes covered in gardens, vineyards, and a few houses and churches. The Cardinal needed a little over ten years to buy the land and demolish the buildings. Between 1563 and 1565 the land was remodeled to create a steep slope descending to the old monastery and another gentler slope facing the north-east. A terrace was laid out in the south-west, supported by the old wall of the town.
From 1550 until his death in 1572, when the villa was nearing completion, Cardinal d'Este created a palatial setting surrounded by a spectacular terraced garden in the late-Renaissance mannerist style, which took advantage of the dramatic slope but required innovations in bringing a sufficient water supply, which was employed in cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets and fountains.
During this period the old monastery was converted into a villa and the original cloister was modified to become the central courtyard, its south-east wall being that of the old church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The pace of the decoration work for the palace increased up between 1565 and 1572, the year in which Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este died. Much of the work remained unfinished and many of the fountains for the garden still have to be built
Cardinal Luigi d'Este (1538-86) inherited the property of his uncle but his financial resources only allowed him to complete the work already started and to carry out a few repairs.
Cardinal Alessandro d'Este (it) repaired and extended the gardens from 1605. The maintenance, restoration, and layout works (the rotunda of the Cypresses around 1640) continued under the Dukes of Modena, who were related to the House of Este, until 1641. Cardinal Rinaldo I (1618-72) turned to Bernini (the Fountain of the Bicchierone) in 1660-61 and, starting in 1670, the architect Mattia de Rossi carried out more work, including changes to the palace.
The period when the Villa d'Este was abandoned started with Rinaldo II (1655-1736). In the eighteenth century the villa and its gardens passed to the House of Habsburg after Ercole III d'Este bequeathed it to his daughter Maria Beatrice, married to Grand Duke Ferdinand of Habsburg. However, thanks to the work undertaken by Cardinal Gustav von Hohenlohe (1823-96), the villa was saved from what might have been an irreversible loss. In 1920 the Villa d'Este became the property of the Italian State, which initiated a restoration campaign from 1920 to 1930, and another following damage caused by bombing in 1944.
Hilly scenery around Villa d'Este:
Villa d'Este itinerary:You leave the bus near a splendid square with sculptures and a small park - Arco dei Padri Costituenti di Arnaldo Pomodoro in Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi:
From here follow Via Bosseli, Via della Missione and the brown sign-posts to the Villa. You arrive to a small square, Piazza Trento, where the tickets office of the Villa is located:
A small fountain, Piazza Trento, entrance to Villa d'Este:
The villa itself is surrounded on three sides by a sixteenth-century courtyard sited on the former Benedictine cloister. The fountain on a side wall, framed within a Doric, contains a sculpture of a sleeping nymph in a grotto guarded by d'Este heraldic eagles, with a bas-relief framed in apple boughs that links the villa to the Garden of the Hesperides.
The central main entrance leads to the Appartamento Vecchio ("Old Apartment") made for Ippolito d'Este, with its vaulted ceilings frescoed in secular allegories by Livio Agresti and his students, centered on the grand Sala, with its spectacular view down the main axis of the gardens, which fall away in a series of terraces.
After passing the tickets office - you enter a small, frescoed courtyard with nice sculptures. The courtyard, which was just inside the main entrance:
You arrive to the western Belvedere of the Villa with outstanding views on the village of Tivoli with its white-washed houses sloping down the hills. Grand Loggia and View of Gardens:
Exhibition in the Villa's main hall (Grand Sala): European fashion between 1500 and 1600:
To the left and right are suites of rooms, that on the left containing Cardinal Ippolito's's library and his bedchamber with the chapel beyond, and the private stairs to the lower apartment, the Appartamento Nobile, which gives directly onto Pirro Ligorio's Gran Loggia straddling the gravelled terrace with a triumphal arch motif.
Room of Glory - Hunting Roo. (Stanza della Gloria ). The Renaissance paintings by Federico Zuccari can be dated to 1566-68. The portraits are superimposed by four illusionist tapestries, alternating with hunting trophies (wild boar, deer, hare, birds) and festoons of flowers and fruit. Other smaller scenery are depicted in the emblasures of the door and windows. Emerging from the rest is an aristocratic deer-hunting scene, with the beast being chased by the hounds in the waters of a river on which are mirrored Nordic residences and castles.
Room of Nobility - (Stanza della Nobilta). The Renaissance paintings by Federico Zuccari can be dated to 1566-67. On the walls, an illusionist architecture of Ionian columns and polychrome marble encrustations frame allegorical personifications of "Virtue" and the "Liberal arts", of uncertain identification on a "pompeian red" background of refined antiquarian taste. Mock classic busts of illustrious men portray ancient philosophers and legislators such as Plato, Socrates and Pythagoras. In the grotesque decoration of the vault are depicted the allegorical figures of "Honor", "Rerum Natura", "Opulence" and "Immortality." At the center of the vault the "Nobility" towers over an aerial canopy flanked by its handmaids, "Liberality" and "Generosity".
Room of Hercules. This room celebrates the deeds of Hercules, the hero of Tivoli and legendary forefather of the House of Este. The pictorial decorations in this room were the first in the palace- along with those in the adjacent Salon. The "Twelve Labors of Hercules" are portrayed in the lower part of the vault; these were the famous tasks Hercules was assigned to overcome in order to be welcomed among the Gods. A "labor" appears on every wall in an oval portrait set in scenery; there are two other "labors" at the sides. The fresco at the center of the vault represents the epilogue of the myth- the "Apotheosis of Hercules." The hero, who is welcomed in the assembly of the twelve major divinities of Olympus (thanks to his labors) is shown with his back turned, with th eskin of the Lion Nemeo on his back and his arms resting on his bludgeon. References to Hercules, conqueror and thief of the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, is a strong and constant element in the decoration of the villa and gardens.
Salon del la Fontana. ( Sala della Fontana ), the banquet hall of Cardinal Ipollito d"Este. The frescoes were carried out by 6 assistants of Girolamo Muziano (1532-1592):
Room of Noah ( Sala di Noe ). The room was decorated with frescoes by Durante Alberti between 1570 and 1571 from drawings by Girolamo Muziano. The scenes depict Noah and the floods:
Room of Moses', Title: Moses Striking water from Rock, Date: 1560-1572,
Artist: Durante Alberti and assistants, Medium: Fresco:
Cardinal Ippolito's's chapel: The private chapel of Cardinal Ippolito was a small rectangular area in the most reserved section of the apartment. Its decoration, with the exception of the fresco over the altar, was carried out between 1568 and 1572:
The Altar and the "Madonna della Ghiara":
The Arts and Crafts Room: Presumably intended as a study for the Cardinal on the lower level, this space was richly embellished in gold and silver corami, but probably devoid of pictorial decorations (except at the windows). From an inventory dated 1678, we know only of the presence of a painting on the ceiling, but it is presently missing. A series of twelve figures representing the arts and crafts corporations of Tivoli, flanked by a solemn figure leafing through the book of civic statutes. One can see, in succession, Carpenters, Stonemasons, Blacksmiths, Donkey Breeders, Carters, Grocers, Shoemakers, Merchants and Tailors, Millers, Butchers and Buttari. According to reports, real artisans, merchants and farmers from Tivoli posed for these figures:
We leave the Villa and descend to the Gardens.
The garden plan is laid out on a central axis with subsidiary cross-axes, refreshed by some five hundred jets in fountains, pools and water troughs. The water is supplied by the Aniene, which is partly diverted through the town, a distance of a kilometer, and, originally, by the Rivellese spring, which supplied a cistern under the villa's courtyard (now supplied by the Aniene too). The garden is now part of the Grandi Giardini Italiani.
The Villa's uppermost terrace ends in a balustraded balcony at the left end, with a sweeping view over the plain below. Symmetrical double flights of stairs flanking the central axis lead to the next garden terrace, with the Grotto of Diana, richly decorated with frescoes and pebble mosaic to one side and the central Fontana del Bicchierone ("Fountain of the Great Cup"), planned by Bernini in 1660, where water issues from a seemingly natural rock into a scrolling shell-like cup.
To descend to the next level, there are stairs at either end — the elaborate fountain complex called the Rometta ("the little Rome") is at the far left — to view the full length of the Hundred Fountains on the next level, where the water jets fill the long rustic trough, and Pirro Ligorio's Fontana dell'Ovato ends the cross-vista. A visitor may walk behind the water through the rusticated arcade of the concave nymphaeum, which is peopled by marble nymphas by Giambattista della Porta. Above the nymphaeum, the sculpture of Pegasus recalls to the visitor the fountain of Hippocrene on Parnassus, haunt of the Muses.
This terrace is united to the next by the central Fountain of the Dragons, dominating the central perspective of the gardens, erected for a visit in 1572 of Pope Gregory XIII whose coat-of-arms features a dragon. Central stairs lead down a wooded slope to three rectangular fishponds set on the cross-axis at the lowest point of the gardens, terminated at the right by the water organ (now brought back into use) and Fountain of Neptune (belonging to the 20th century restorations).
The Grand Loggia of Villa d'Este:
View of Tivoli from the Villa's Grand Loggia:
View of South-West corner of the Gardens from the Villa's Grand Loggia: Fountain of Rometta. The Fountain of Rometta is a miniature representation of Rome itself- with some of the iconic structures, a miniature river for the Tiber, and various allegorical representations:
One of the Fish Ponds from the Grand Loggia:
The Gardens from the Grand Loggia:
The Oval Fountain from the Grand Loggia:
The Fountain of Pegasus is in the northeast corner of the garden. It consists of a circular tank, in the center of which is a large rock on which stands the statue of the mythical winged horse Pegasus. The composition recalls the story of Pegasus, who arrived on Mount Helicon and, banging his hoof on the ground, created the fountain Hippocrene, sacred to the Muses:
The Fountain of Europa is in the northeast corner of the garden; it looks like a triumphal arch, formed by two overlapping rows of columns, Doric and Corinthian, which define a niche within which was placed a sculpture of Europa embracing a bull. The Greeks believed that Zeus fell in love with Europa when he saw her and decided to seduce her so he became a white bull. Europa got onto his back and Zeus took her out into the sea to the island of Crete. All that remains in the niche now is a very small water jet:
The Oval Fountain (Fountain of Tivoli)
Taking the eastern stairs down from the Cardinal's Walk, we came to The Oval Fountain. The Oval Fountain is one of the main fountains in the garden, and is located halfway up the hillside on the northeastern side. It marks the beginning of the large waterway which ends to the southwest with the Rometta Fountain. It is the beginning of the complex scheme that runs all the fountains in the garden. Water was brought through an underground aqueduct to a point just above this fountain- the highest point in the garden. Then, as they say, it was all downhill from there. Water conduits radiate out in two directions- on across the garden to the west, ending at the Rometta Fountain, and supplying the Hundred Fountains and the Owl Fountain as well. Another conduit heads northwest to supply the Organ Fountain and the Fountain of Neptune, as well as the Fish Pools and other smaller fountains in the central area of the garden. Water from here even supplies the Diana fountain at the northern side of the garden.
The Oval Fountain (Fountain of Tivoli): Taking the eastern stairs down from the Cardinal's Walk, we came to The Oval Fountain. The Oval Fountain is one of the main fountains in the garden, and is located halfway up the hillside on the northeastern side. It marks the beginning of the large waterway which ends to the southwest with the Rometta Fountain. It is the beginning of the complex scheme that runs all the fountains in the garden. Water was brought through an underground aqueduct to a point just above this fountain- the highest point in the garden. Then, as they say, it was all downhill from there. Water conduits radiate out in two directions- on across the garden to the west, ending at the Rometta Fountain, and supplying the Hundred Fountains and the Owl Fountain as well. Another conduit heads northwest to supply the Organ Fountain and the Fountain of Neptune, as well as the Fish Pools and other smaller fountains in the central area of the garden. Water from here even supplies the Diana fountain at the northern side of the garden:
Upper fountain over the Oval Fountain:
The Cento Fountain (The Hundred Fountains): Beginning in front of the Oval Fountain, there are three waterways symbolizing the rivers Herculaneum, Albuneo and Aniene; these flow in the three superimposed canals of the Cento Fountain. With its long, flowing front, it crosses the whole garden:
Back to the Fountain of Rometta (Little Rome) (we are loyal to our zig-zag policy) - in the south edge of the Hundred Fountains avenue:
Fountain of Rometta designed by Pirro Ligorio and executed by Curzio Maccarone between 1567 and 1570 to represent ancient Rome. On this section of the semicircular theatre there (not shown here) is a stucco statue of the river God Aniene on the Tiburtine mountain summit, who holds in his right hand the circular Temple of Sybil. Below him, half-hidden in a grotto, Apennines holds the mountain from which is born the river whose water merges with the Tiber:
The Neptune Grotto in the lower level:
A Niche near the Fountain of the Owl:
The Fountain of the Owl. In the center of the fountain, there is a niche with a small fountain inside it, and the water comes down from two levels, forming cascades. The niche and fountain are placed between two columns on which grapewines and gold apples rise, reminding viewers yet again about the connection between the House of Este and the legendary Hercules. And there is another small fountain adjacent to the main one:
The Fountain of the Dragons. Pope Gregory XIII made a visit to the Villa; this influenced the Cardinal and one of his designers to create a monument with the four winged dragons. This was because the Boncompagni family used the dragon as their symbol, and Pope Gregory was a Boncompagni:
The Fountain of Neptune and Iris flowers around:
The upper level of The Fountain of Neptune - The Fountain of the Organ:
The Stairs of Bollori. The only flat place in the gardens is the center- where the fish ponds are. North and South of that, the garden is sloped. All of the walkways that go north and south in the gardens thus must have stairs, and the architect to designed them was named Bollori, and so all of the steps along all of the walkways are, collectively, called The Bollori Stairs. These are not just stairs, but they are also integral garden features, for alongside most of them run little narrow watercourses inset into short walls- as if the walkways were framed by falling water. Although they held up quite well for centuries, it is necessary today to restore the travertine steps and the cascading fountains that accompany them:
"Ornamental" rocks in the Gardens:
Fountain of Diana of Ephesus. View of Fontana Della Madre Natura with a statue of Diana of Ephesus, the great nature goddess. Sculpted by Gillis van den Vliete in 1568, the statue was originally part of the Fountain of the Organ, but was relocated in the 17th century as it was felt to be overly pagan in appearance:
Crossing the Fountain of Neptune:
View from the Organ Fountain to the Fish Ponds:
The Organ Fountain:
View of the Fish Ponds from the Fountain of the Organ:
Leave the Villa to the south-east direction, heading to Tivoli, to to the top of a street called Vicolo Todini. Right on the corner you'll notice a police station. Across the street the castle, are the Rocca Pia Castle and the Amphitheatre Bleso. The castle replaced the earlier Callisto II Borgia and derives its name from Pio II Piccolomini, the Humanist Pope who had ordered that the castle be built in Tivoli. Niccolo and Varrone were the two architects entrusted with the construction of the castle. The castle took one year to build and its main purpose was to control the city and to prevent any future revolts or violence. The castle was built at the end of the medieval and communal era of Tivoli. Several changes were made to the city in order to make way for the new castle. The Roman amphitheater was leveled out and medieval walls with a door were constructed in the northern part of the city in order to defend it from invasions.
In Tivoli village - take a few random street scenes along and aroundVia del Trevio: