More than 2000 years ago Tivoli was surrounded by a luscious countryside. Its closeness to Rome, its abundance of salubrious waters and its cool climate attracted many wealthy Romans who loved to spend their holidays here.
Emperor Hadrian chose to build here his magnificent estate. Here he could relax, away from the Roman mob and the flattering courtiers, and spend his time hunting. Hadrian’s villa was like a small town: there were baths, fountains, large halls, all beautifully decorated with statues and mosaics and very innovative in style.
One of the most spectacular areas of the villa is the Canopus a dining hall overlooking a large canal which could accommodate hundreds of guests invited to Hadrian’s magnificent banquets. Or the Teatro Marittimo (Maritime Theatre): Hadrian’s headquarters and private retreat surrounded by a moat it could be completely isolated by simply removing two wooden bridges.
Tivoli was also the brainchild of one man, the powerful and ambitious Cardinal Ippolito D’este who during the 1500’s set out to transform an old Benedictine convent into a new garden of Eden with more than 200 fountains laid out on sloping terraces along with beautiful greenery.
Some of the most imposing fountains have been just restored, like The Fontana dell’Organo which has inside a water-operated organ which delivers music as water falls through, or le Fontane di Tivoli and Rome, reproductions on a smaller scale of the two cities. Villa d’Este is perfect for a tour in the hot summertime, enjoy the coolness of waterfalls and sit in the shade of mighty ancient cypresses.