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TivoliTivoli in Lazio is a beautiful, ancient city that was originally known as Tiber and which is home to a stunning historic centre, some of the most beautiful ruins in Italy and a tremendous, 120 m waterfall created by Pope Gregory XVI who had the flow of the Aneine river diverted in 1860 to prevent it from flooding the narrow gorge as it did each year. Tivoli is most famous however for its beautiful villas, in particular Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana.

 


Villa d'Este - Tivoli, RomeVille d'Este
Villa d’Este, an UNESCO world heritage site and masterpiece of Italian architecture is brimming with fountains, grottoes, pools and fountains and was the most frequently copied of all of the Mannerism and Baroque gardens. It was commissioned by Cardinal Hippolyte  of Este in 1560, designed by the famous architect Pirro Ligorio and built by Court Architect Alberto Galvani, and although it fell into disrepair several times over the course of the years, it is now property of the Italian state and open to the public. Well worth a visit, the gardens with their stone and flowing waters seem to blend perfectly with the surrounding landscape which is made up of the self same colours and materials. In addition, many of the statues and sculptures seem to have been taken by Pirro Ligorio from the nearby imperial residence Villa Adriana, before this latter was bought by the Italian state towards the end of the 19th century.

Villa Adriana - Tivoli, RomeVilla Adriana
Villa Adriana, built for the Emperor Adriano in the 2nd century AC.  Although it is less well know, the villa is perhaps as important a Roman archaeological site as Pompeii, being at least as large as the latter and being a demonstration of how the upper classes may have lived.
Also an UNESCO world heritage site, the villa has provided us with some of the most beautiful statues and sculptures of Renaissance art.
Despite this, and despite the numerous digs that have taken place, little is actually known about the villa as the digs have until now been less archaeology and more “treasure-hunting”. You can truly lose yourself in the vast, atmospheric site and if you are interested in history it is a must in Lazio.

 

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