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Day Trip from Rome: Traipsing Around Tivoli

I took a day tour from Rome of Hadrian's Villa and Villa D'Este in Tivoli, checking off two more UNESCO sites. I was at the end of a 5 week trip through Greece and Italy and decided a day tour that handled all the transportation sounded like the perfect plan.

Tivoli is a commune of the metropolitan area of Rome, located strategically on the River Aniene. It was founded about 600 years before Roman times and became especially important during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. During the Middle Ages, Tivoli was controlled by the Papal States and was fortified with a wall. During the Renaissance, Villa d'Este was built and Tivoli continued to prosper. Today, its economy is based mainly in tourism and its quarries.

Hadrian's Villa is another archeological site that was buried by a volcanic blast. Much of the site is still unexcavated.

Hadrian enjoyed his summer home... he only ruled for about 20 years, so he accomplished a lot in his short reign.

One of the marks of Hadrian's buildings is that he used the local volcanic rock and a form of concrete as the base of all buildings. This base was then covered with a stucco-like plaster and painted with frescoes. Since he wanted to celebrate the breadth of the Roman Empire, he used ideas from all over; including Greece and Egypt.

The Grecco library is a twin to the Latin library adjacent.

The Sala de Filosofi (Hall of the Philosophers) is a covered circular salon that included a channel all around. Hadrian lived here during the early construction phases.

The Theattro was used for athletic and cultural performances.

The Hospitalia was where visiting guests would stay in a dormitory-like setting. Most rooms had 3-5 beds. The mosaic outlined where different beds were placed.

A few signs of the original frescoes remain.

The Caserma die Vigili was the barracks, located between the offices and the palace.

The Terme was the baths. This included a "frigid" bath, a tepid bath, a steam room, and a hot bath.

The Canopo is the pride and joy of the site, and it is easy to see why. It is an absolutely stunning pool surrounded by columns and statuary.


After Hadrian's Villa, we went into the town of Tivoli, walking by the old fortress to our lunch stop.

... and then carried on to Villa D'Este. The Villa D'este is a 16th century estate known for its terraced gardens with hundred of fountains, It is an Italian State Museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I truly enjoyed learning the history of this estate. It was built by the wealthy influential Ippolito Il d'Este. Born in 1509, he was brought up to enjoy all the finest things that life had to offer someone of his station. He inherited the title of Archbishop of Milan at 9 years old. Not being particularly devout, he used the church to gain even greater power. He would curry favour with those who needed to be impressed with musicians, prostitutes, feasts, and "rivers of wine".

When d'Este was made governor of Tivoli, he was unimpressed with the housing available and started construction of a new estate better fitting his standing. He drew inspiration from Hadrian's villa... even "borrowing" some of the statuaries and marble from the ancient estate.