Just 30km from the wonderful Rome, Tivoli amazes with its splendid Villa D’Este. With its enchanting gardens, fountains, water games, nymphs and hydraulic music, the Villa is a masterpiece of the Italian garden and a splendid example of a Renaissance work.
Its construction is the work of Cardinal Ippolito d’Este who in 1550 was appointed by Pope Julius III governor of Tivoli. The cardinal immediately began the construction of his new Villa, works that ended only in 1572 shortly before his death. The D’Este family nevertheless maintained ownership, continuing to carry out maintenance and innovations. In the 17th century under the Habsburgs, the Villa experienced years of decay and abandonment; period that ended in the mid-nineteenth century when under the direction of Cardinal Gustav Adolf von Hohenlohe-Schillingfurst it was restored to its former glory, returning to the center of intense artistic-worldly activities.
It was only in 1918 that the Villa became the property of the Italian State which restored it and opened it to the public around 1930, so that anyone could enjoy its beauties.
The wonderful gardens and gushing fountains are certainly the main reasons that bring tourists to Tivoli, but the Palace that dominates the gardens should not be forgotten. The palace, like the gardens, was designed by Pirro Logorio. The structure has an elegant facade which can be accessed via the avenue delimited by the Gran Loggia and the Fontana d’Europa. Once you have crossed the threshold you can enjoy 3 distinct floors each of which hosts areas and places of historical interest.
Gardens and Fountains
As for the park, the water supply was made possible by a system of conveying water from the Aniene river and the operation of the fountains was allowed by natural gravity created by different levels of garden. The gardens of Villa d’Este extend, in fact, over two steep slopes, descending from the palace to a flat terrace, as if it were an amphitheater. The layout of the park is based on axes and modules, and was adopted to mask the irregular outline of the gardens by means of an optical illusion. In this way it seems that the palace has a central position with respect to the entire park, even if in reality it is out of alignment.
The garden is a masterpiece of hydraulic engineering, both for the arrangement and complex system of water distribution, and for the numerous water games created thanks to the introduction of the first automatic hydraulic systems, never built before then.
The fountains present are dozens, each with a peculiarity. Among the most famous we point out:
- The Fountain of Organ, which owes its name to the fact that, thanks to a water mechanism inside it, it manages to reproduce sounds as if it were a real musical instrument. The Organ is activated daily starting from 10.30 every two hours. Don’t miss it!
- The fountain of Bicchierone, also called “del Giglio”, added almost a century after the realization of villa and designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
- Really suggestive, also group of Cento Fontane (Hundred Fountains), complex designed by Pirro Ligorio that connects fountain dell’Ovato (Oval Fountain), also called Tivoli fountain , with Rometta (Little Rome), also called Rome fountain.
To make you understand complexity and richness of gardens of Villa d’Este we report here below some numbers that characterize them: 35.000 square miles total gardens area, 250 jets, 60 water pools, 255 waterfalls, 100 tanks, 50 fountains, 20 exedras and terraces, 300 sluices, 30.000 plants in seasonal rotation, 150 secular tall trees, 15.000 plants and ornamental trees perennials, 9.000 square miles avenues , paths and ramps.
It is undoubtedly an unmissable trip out from Rome. You will be enchanted by magic of its fountains and you will (happily) get lost in alleys of gardens.
In addition to by car, Tivoli can be reached by bus from Rome: The buses that run the Rome-Tivoli route are from the Cotral company and leave from the Ponte Mammolo station (metro B stop). The ticket price is 2€.
For rates and timetables consult the website