Hadrian's Villa

Hadrian's Villa is a large Roman archaeological complex in Tivoli, Italy.

Tivoli view

Tivoli view from Villa d'Este, Tivoli, Italy.

Up at the Villa

Tivoli is a historic hill town in the Lazio region of Italy. With the requisite piazzas, charming lanes and cafes, it's a lovely town to stop over in if you're traveling with a Eurail Italy Pass. But this isn't just a place to stretch your legs after eating too much pasta. You'll want to spend the day, and it's easy to when arriving from Rome.

From Rome's Tiburtina station, take the Roma-Pescara line train in the direction of Stazione Tivoli. The train ride takes about one hour, but Tivoli's train station is about three-quarters of a mile out of town, so you'll need to catch the special shuttle bus from the train station to the city center. This can add another 15 minutes to the journey. And we promise it will be worth it. Two of Italy's most famous tourist attractions are here: The magnificent gardens of the Villa d'Este and the Pompeii-extensive ruins of Hadrian's Villa, also known as Villa Adriana.

The Villa d'Este is a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture and an Italian Renaissance Garden. The villa itself is surrounded on three sides by a 16th-century courtyard on a former Benedictine cloister. The main entrance leads to the "Old Apartment" made for Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, and has vaulted ceilings frescoed in secular allegories. And while the villa is really lovely, if pressed for time, the masterpiece here is the Italian Garden.

With water supplied by the Aniene River, there's an impressive concentration of fountains, both large and small. Each relies on natural water pressure that takes advantage of the steep slope on which the gardens are built. You'll also find nymphs, grottos and plays of water set to music. During the 18th and 19th centuries the gardens fell into a state of ruin. Gratefully, they were taken over by the Italian government at the beginning of World War I and have been restored to something close to their original splendor.

"Villa Adriana" is the ruins of Emperor Hadrian's summer residence, which used to be one of the largest and most sumptuous villas of the Ancient world. The emperor was a keen traveler, and his "home" a masterpiece that uniquely reproduced the finest elements of Egyptian, Greek and Roman architecture, thus forming an "ideal city." This retreat was to replace the palace on Palatine Hill in Rome, as Hadrian didn't care for it. During the later years of his reign, the Emperor ruled the empire from his villa.

After Hadrian, the villa was used by his various successors. But during the decline of the Roman Empire, the villa fell into despair. As a matter of fact, Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este had much of the marble and statues removed to decorate his own villa.

Come to Tivoli, leave only footprints. And see what life was like in ancient times, when cardinals and emperors built cities from stone and ruled with iron.

Contributed by: Anna, Online Marketing, a Greek, whose most beloved place in the whole world is Paris.

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