Back in 2014, I was living in England and took a trip back to Rome. During this trip, I went to Tivoli, a town east of Rome to visit Villa d’Este, a UNESCO World Heritage site. While the most common recommended day trips from Rome suggest Tivoli, not all of them suggest Villa d’Este. The more common being Hadrian’s Villa, which I also highly recommend, but they are two completely different experiences.
After a lot of confusion when researching information for this article some people refer to Villa d’Este as Tivoli Gardens. It is common to see either form in English.
Villa d’Este is a stunning 16th-century example of Italian Renaissance architecture and gardens. Construction started in 1550, thanks to Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, who after a failed bid for the papacy, became Governor of Tivoli. He revived many beautiful places in the area such as Hadrian’s Villa. Construction of Villa d’Este was almost complete at the time of his death in 1572.
There were other renovations and additions to the property in the 1600s and by the 1800s it had fallen into ruin and long periods of not being used, so it was restored once again. For my fellow music fans, Franz Liszt played one of his final concerts here in 1879 and composed Giochi d’acqua a Villa d’Este for piano which a guest at the Villa.
The villa itself is covered in impressive frescos. The garden is where the villa shines. An incredible Renaissance style garden full of green, statues, and intricate fountains. There really isn’t much more to say beyond that, the pictures speak volumes, but I do highly recommend visiting Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa if you are in Rome and want an interesting day trip outside of the city. I had a difficult time narrowing down some of the photos from the villa so sorry this is a bit photo heavy! If you are like me, then you probably don’t mind.
Below is an illustration to show the entire grounds of Villa d’Este, it is difficult to show the sheer size and complexity just through photos.
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