Tivoli and Villa d’Este

The Villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este in the 1500s, a young man that was named archbishop of Milan when he was only ten years old (of course his family’s wealth helped make that happen)! When he was 27, he was sent to the French court, where he became an advisor to the French King, Francis I, and in 1540 became a member of the King’s Private Council. He became a cardinal at the age of thirty. One of the wealthiest cardinals of the time, he was a patron of the arts. While he was a candidate for pope at five different times, he was never selected.

Tivoli’s altitude made it a popular summer residence since ancient Roman times. It is also quite close to the Villa Adriana, the summer residence of the Emperor Hadrian I. D’Este commissioned a prominent classical scholar, Pirro Ligorio, who had studied the Villa Hadriana and other Roman sites the vicinity, to plan a new villa and garden which would exceed anything the Romans had built. He obtained an abundant supply of marble and statuary from the ruins of Hadrian’s villa.

The nearby river Aniene was diverted to furnish water for the complex system of pools, water jets, channels, fountains, cascades and water games.

D’Este died on December 2, 1572 in Rome, and he was buried in a simple tomb in the church adjoining the Villa.

Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa) in Tivoli

Tivoli is a hilltown not very far from Rome. It used to be a resort for the ancient Romans because not only did it have fresh water, but also some sulfur Springs. And the countryside is pretty spectacular too.

The most famous site in Tivoli is the Villa d’ Este. But a close second is about 5 miles west of Tivoli where we visited the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa. It is one of the most spectacular villas ever built in the Roman empire and once covered an area larger than the center of Imperial Rome.

Hadrian’s goal was to reproduce wonders of the world he had seen on his visits. As an example one walkway around a rectangular pool and garden mimics Athens while there are also sanctuary similar to Alexandria. There are ruins of several bath complexes, a library, and a theater.

Rome at Night

Rome is such a large city that it’s hard to capture its highlights in one portfolio. Some of these night pictures are dedicated to the ancient center of Rome. There are ruins of temples and basilicas just about anywhere you look. Some of these pictures show the Roman forum, the Colosseum, and the Capitoline museums. The monuments are bathed in orange and yellow light at night, which makes for a really interesting photos.


Well you know you can’t visit Rome without stopping to see the Trevi fountain. There are also plenty of street scenes around the Piazza di Spagna at sunset. When we first arrived in Rome we explored the area around the Colosseum and then walk to Trajan’s Forum.

Capitoline Hill, on one of the seven hills of Rome, was the symbolic center of the Roman world and also the site of three important temples dedicated to the god Jupiter Optimus Maximus, protector of Rome, Minerva goddess of wisdom and war, and Juno Moneta, a guardian goddess.

Below the capital is the forum which was once the focus of political, social, legal, and commercial life. The Palatine Hill is where Romulus is said to have founded Rome in the eighth century BC.

The Colosseum has 80 arched entrances that allow easy access to spectators. Deadly gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights were staged by the emperor and wealthy citizens largely to gain popularity. In AD 80, 9,000 wild animals were killed the Colosseum which held about 55,000 people who were seated according to rank. The Colosseum used Corinthian Ionic and Doric columns.


Most of the principal sites in Siena cluster around the fan-shaped Piazza Del Campo, one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares.

The piazza occupies the site of the old Roman forum and for much of the city’s early history was the principal marketplace. The present shape began in 1293, when the Council of Nine, Siena’s ruling body at the time, began to acquire land with a plan to create a grand civic plaza.

The piazza has been a setting for executions, bullfights and festivals. Today it is lined with cafés and restaurants. The fountain in 5r square is a 19th-century copy of an original carved by Jacopo della Quercia in 1409-19. It’s relief depict the Virtues, Adam and Eve and the Madonna and Child. The originals are in Santa Maria della Scala. The fountain’s water is still supplied by a 500-year-old aqueduct.

Santa Maria della Scala

Santa Maria della Scala is a former hospital in Siena, Italy, which is now a museum.

The hospital was dedicated to caring for abandoned children, the poor, the sick, and pilgrims and is one of the oldest hospitals in the world.

The hospital gets its name from the Piazza Del Duomo from Siena Cathedral. Santa Maria della Scala refers to its position across from the steps that lead to the Cathedral.

Pilgrims Hall is the main hall where pilgrims were lodged. It also served as a location for public festivities. In the 1330s, Santa Maria della Scala commissioned many important interior and exterior frescoes as well as several altar pieces. While exterior frescoes no longer exist, interior frescoes have survived for centuries. The majority were alter pieces that were created after the Black Death. The principal artist is Bartolommeo Bulgarini.

Around 1335, the church commissioned a series of frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin. The scenes were chosen both to honor Mary and to also give recognition to her parents, Saints Joachim and Anne, the subjects of special devotion at the hospital during the 1320s and 1330s. The scenes became a valuable model for iconography.

Duomo di Siena

Siena’sDuomo was constructed from 1136 to 1382. Is a late Gothic church with early Renaissance painting and Baroque design. Early architects used striking Romanesque stripes but the form of the church is one of the best Gothic styles in Italy.

Originally designed to be the largest church in Christendom, The plan had to be altered because the plague of 1348 virtually halved the city’s population.

There are many masterpieces in the church including some from Donatello and Michelangelo. Other buildings include the Baptistry, the Museo Dell’Opera Metropolitano, and the Santa Maria della Scala hospital across the Square, where are 1440s frescoes in the wards depict a series of fascinating medieval hospital scenes.

The Campanile (tower) was added in 1313. The pulpit panels were carved by Nicola Paisano and 1265. And the extraordinary frescoes in the Piccolomini Library portray the life of Pope Pius II.

Firenze Santissia Annunziata

This church was founded in 1250 as the Holy Annunciation. It was rebuilt between 1444 and 1481. It’s atrium contains frescoes by the Mannerist artists Rosso Fiorentino, Andrea del Sarto, and Jacopo Pontormo.

The dark interior of the church has a fresco ceiling completed by Pietro Giambelli in 1669. There is also a shrine painting of the Virgin Mary that was begun by a monk in 1252 but completed by an angel (according to Florentine legend). Newlywed couples visit the shrine to present a bouquet of flowers to the virgin and to pray for a happy marriage. The church is situated on the northern flank of Piazza della Santissima Annunciata, one of the finest Renaissance squares in Florence.

Firenze Ufizzi

Make sure to scroll to the bottom and select page 2 for more photos at the Ufizzi!

The Ufizzi is one of Italy’s greatest art galleries. Art includes Florentine paintings, Byzantine icons, early Medieval works, as well as Renaissance masterpieces and Mannerist paintings.

The museum was built in 1560-80 to house offices for Duke Cosimo I. Iron was used as reinforcement which enabled Buontalenti to create an almost continuous wall of glass on the upper story. The Medicis use this will lead space to display the family are treasures creating what is now the oldest gallery in the world. Today the paintings are hung chronologically to show the development of Florentine art from Gothic to Renaissance and beyond.

Botticelli paintings are the highlight of the museums collection. Renaissance artist often experimented with new pigments. One painting is a celebration of spring with goddesses and 500 species of plant.

Michelangelo’s The Holy Family Is a round paintings with bright colors and unusually twisted pose of the Virgin Mary. Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch shows earthquake damage from 1547. There are also works by Titian including the Venus of Urbino, which is said to be one of the most beautiful nudes ever painted.