UNESCO World Heritage Site

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.


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.