[This post is for Heather Taylor, who designed our garden. I wish we had lived in Villa d'Este so we could have given you this garden for a project, Heather!]
In the mountains about 15 miles (but about 30 minutes) east of Rome lies the hill town of Tivoli (TEE-vo-lee), which was founded in the 13th century BC. Because of its cool, fresh climate, wealthy Romans have spent their summers here since the second century AD, when Hadrian built his immense summer palace in the valley below. We visited two of Tivoli’s attractions on Saturday, which was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the high 70s.
In the 1550s, Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, the son of Lucretia Borgia and her fourth husband, Alfonso d’Este, constructed Villa d’Este. Although the house itself is huge and adorned with vivid frescoes in all of the 18 rooms that we could visit, the enormous, terraced garden—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—steals the show! The elaborate gardens feature hundreds of fountains, ponds stocked with huge fish (probably koi), stone pathways weaving through the terraces, wonderful old trees, a lovely light breeze, and a killer view from the plains below Tivoli to Rome. The gardens are gorgeous and peaceful and utterly divine!
We walked through Villa d’Este for 2-1/2 hours and then took a short stroll through the historical area of Tivoli. We then drove down the mountain to Hadrian’s Villa, but I’ll tell you about that in the next blog post.
The photos below will show you the Villa d’Este better than I can tell you about it.