Villa Adriana & Villa D’Este – Tivoli

Villa Adriana TivoliIf you have an extra day it is worth getting to Tivoli, about 25 km from Rome


built between 118 and 138 AD by Adriano (Publius Aelius Hadrianus) probably born in Italica, near Seville (Spain), on January 24, 76 A.D.

Adopted by Trajan, his father’s cousin, succeeded him in the empire in 117 AD. C. The Villa was distributed over an area of ​​at least 120 hectares, on a tufaceous plateau between two ditches, that of the water Ferrata to the east and that of Risicoli or Rocca Bruna to the west.

To build such a grandiose complex, Adriano decided to move his residence out of the capital, choosing a green and water-rich area, near Tivoli, 28 km from Rome, on the tuff banks that spread out at the foot of the Tiburtini Mountains.

Currently the area that can be visited is approx. 40 hectares.

Literary sources tell us that Adriano, an extremely versatile personality, especially loved architecture, to which he dedicated himself personally; the characteristics of the Villa’s layout, which differ from the architectural customs of the time, clearly demonstrate this participation and competence.

In Rome, an example of this may be the Temple of Venus and Rome, erected in the Forum, but also the Pantheon, a remake of the previous temple built by Agrippa, by some scholars attributed to Apollodorus of Damascus, official architect of the emperor Trajan , was built in a new form and with innovative techniques.

In Rome there is another important monument erected by Hadrian, Castel Sant’Angelo, originally intended as a tomb for the emperor and later transformed into a fortress of the Papal States.

In the Villa there are residential buildings, spas, nymphaeums, pavilions, gardens that alternate according to a completely unusual distribution, which does not reflect the usual sequence of villas and domus, even imperial ones.

The various buildings were connected to each other not only by surface paths, but also by an underground road network suitable for vehicles and pedestrians.Villa Adriana Tivoli

The richness of the villa’s architectural and sculptural decoration was extraordinary and has been the subject of frantic and systematic research since the Renaissance.

The stripping of marble, which occurred already in the Middle Ages for reuse of various types, led to such a dispersion of the villa’s decorative apparatus, that almost all the main museums and collections in Rome and the rest of Italy, as well as in Europe, they include among their exemplary works from Villa Adriana.

 In 1999 Villa Adriana was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

VILLA D’ESTEVilla D'Este Tivoli

Villa d’Este, a masterpiece of the Italian garden and included in the UNESCO list of world heritage, with the impressive concentration of fountains, nymphaeums, caves, water games and hydraulic music is a model repeatedly emulated in the European gardens of Mannerism and baroque.

The garden must also be considered in the extraordinary landscape, artistic and historical context of Tivoli, which presents both the prestigious remains of ancient villas such as Villa Adriana, and a territory rich in gorges, caves and waterfalls, symbol of a millennial war between stone and waters.

The imposing buildings and terraces above terraces suggest the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the ancient world, while the water supply, with an aqueduct and a tunnel under the city, recalls the engineering skill of the Romans.

Wanted by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, nominated civil Governor of the city of Tivoli by Pope Julius III, who wanted to compensate him in this way after defeating him in the race to the papal throne, the Villa was designed by the Neapolitan Pirro Ligorio: he entrusted the restoration of the Benedictine convent to the architect GA Galvani, keeping for himself the realization of the magnificent garden.Villa D'Este Tivoli

Passed to the death of the cardinal in the hands of relatives, Alexander and Luigi, then passed to the Habsburg relatives of Maria Beatrice, the last Este: her situation was deteriorating visibly, when she was partially saved by cardinal Gustav Adolf von Hohenlohe, who revived the splendor also hosting the famous Franz Liszt.

In 1919, under the treaty of St. Germain, the Italian state became its owner.

The work done by Ligorio was truly remarkable: it was a matter of overcoming many practical problems and he began by creating the high embankment of the garden, using the old urban walls as buttresses, he dug a 600 m long tunnel under the city of Tivoli that from the Aniene carried an incredible amount of water to the basin above the Ovate fountain, conveyed the water from the Rivelese spring to the cisterns of the Villa and calculated exactly how much water it would take to make all the games she had in mind, using only the principle of communicating vessels.

He also made use of the collaboration of talented plumbers such as Giacomo della Porta and Claude Venard, who built the hydraulic organ.

But what is even more impressive are the numbers: 35,000 square meters of gardens, 250 spurts, 60 pools of water, 255 waterfalls, 100 pools, 50 fountains, 20 exedras and terraces, 300 sluice gates, 30,000 seasonal rotation plants, 150 century-old tall trees, 15,000 perennial ornamental plants and trees, 9,000 m2 of avenues, paths and ramps.

UNESCO site, since 2001 on the list of World Heritage Sites.

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