Last week, while contemplating other themes that would readily lend themselves to my snarky commentary, a friend of mine asked me to write an article for a website that she manages called Italian Talks. She explained that they’ve recently repurposed their content and have invited a few heavyweights in the travel blogging niche to become regular contributors.
They’ve attracted such well-known travel writers as Jeff Titelius from Euro Travelogue and Keith Jenkins, founder and publisher of Velvet Escape (Yes, I’m thinking the same thing as you: How did Rick Zullo manage to finagle his way onto that roster? It’s a good question, but one that I’m reluctant to ask too directly. If they initiate any serious inquiry, it won’t take long for them to realize their colossal mistake. Shhh…)
It was easy to pick a topic, since writing about Tivoli has been on my mind anyway. Being the pigrone (translation: big, lazy slob) that I am, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to maximize my exposure while minimizing my effort by pairing it with the post that you’re presently skimming through. But also because the town of Tivoli holds a bitter-sweet place in my heart. Sweet because it’s where my wife and I went on our first date. Bitter because, for some reason, this is the Questura I was assigned to when applying for my first Permesso di Soggiorno, requiring me to make about six futile visits there in the course of seven months. Anyone who has read my previous blog posts on the subject has a pretty good idea how I feel. “Bitter” only scratches the surface. Grrrr…
So yes, I know Tivoli much better than any other of the little villages around Rome, and there are several spots in the immediate area worth a close look. There’s the Villa of Emperor Hadrian, who built a sprawling compound near Tivoli in the 2nd century A.D., complete with palaces, pools, libraries, temples, and a theater. Hadrian was an enthusiastic traveler and he drew inspiration from the many civilizations he encountered along his voyages, particularly Egypt and Greece. These influences can be seen throughout the architecture of the remaining ruins. Take a deep breath and you’ll smell the sulfurous odor of the natural hot springs (terme) nearby, which Hadrian and his fellow Romans believed had therapeutic qualities. Nineteen centuries later, they’re still there and open for business.
On the outskirts of Tivoli is the park of Villa Gregoriana, which features two temples from the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C. Follow the path down into a plummeting gorge and enjoy the refreshing waterfalls at the bottom of the ravine. When you arrive, you’ll discover the secret caves of Neptune and the Sirens—a cool refuge during the heat of August.
The crown jewel, however, is Villa D’Este where the sophisticated style of the late Renaissance transitions into the awkwardness of the mannerism era, and finally giving way to baroque exaggerations. This place has something for everyone, whether you’re a lover of art, architecture, history, landscape design, or just natural beauty. Please check on my article this week on the Italian Talks website to read more about this incredible Villa and its even more incredible gardens. Visiting Tivoli from Rome is easy–just a one hour train ride from the center of Rome to Tivoli station and then a short walk to both Villa D’Este and Villa Gregoriana.
Thanks again to Italian Talks for inviting me on board. Their website is a fantastic source of information. More than that, as their tagline says, it’s really a collection of “Italian stories by true lovers of Italy.” I’m truly honored to be part of their team.
Visiting Tivoli from Rome
How to reach Villa D’Este
Tivoli is easily reached by train from the center of Rome in about an hour. Take the Roma-Pescara Line to Stazione Tivoli, and walk across the bridge to the center of town. There are many street signs pointing the way to the villa.
Address: Piazza Trento, 5, 00019 Tivoli, Province of Rome, Italy
Visiting the Villa and Gardens
Visiting Hours are from 8:30 a.m. until one hour before sunset. The villa is closed on Mondays as well as January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.
The Hydraulic Organ Fountain is active daily, from 10:30 a.m., every two hours.
Fantastic introduction to Tivoli! I haven’t been there yet but would love to venture someday! Thanks for all the helpful tips as well! Most of all, thank you so much for your kind words in your opening paragraph! I am truly honored!
You’re most welcome, Jeff…happy travels!
Ciao Rick- I have never heard of the other blokes (note to self- must read more blogs)- but I am very glad I have heard of you. As ever love your style. Look forward to remembering to read your soggiorno story
Thanks Debbie! And congrats on your acceptance into the journalism program. Tanti auguri!!
Really enjoy this quick tour. I watched A Roman Vacation with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck last night, and I thought how lovely it would be to visit Rome, now I will add Tivoli.
This is the best time of year in Rome, in my opinion. The weather is hot during the day, yes, but the nights are wonderful and there’s even a lull in the crowds. And when you want some air and open spaces, head up into the hills in Tivoli and enjoy a completely different atmosphere. Che bella, questa vita romana!
Thanks for your posts, Rick. We enjoy them and use them in our stays in Rome. This year it will be in Sept. though we even hate to leave the city when we are there every few years! For us it is a long trip from coastal CA.
I know what you mean! Tivoli is an easy trip, though, and well worth it if you have time. Then again, the city itself has plenty to you busy! Thanks for your comments, as always, Sabine. Ciao!
Great post, Rick. On my itinerary this September while in Rome. Do you know if the train will also take you further around the old imperial estates? Also, off the subject, but have you been to the Marino Grape Festival held the first Sunday in October? If so, would you recommend it?
Thanks for all you do…..a great job of keeping us all informed!!
Hi Susan! The easiest way to get to Tivoli is the Roma-Pescara line which goes east through Abruzzo all the way to the coast of Le Marche. As far as I know, there aren’t really any other stops along that line that would be on a typical tourist itinerary. As far as the Grape festival in Marino, I tried once, but got to the Termini station too late and the trains were all full. It gets crowded and my advice would be to leave in the morning, have a little walk or something, enjoy one of the great osterie in Marino (I HIGHLY suggest “Osteria de mi Nonno””). Then after a long lunch you can enjoy the festival before the peak crowds arrive. If you go, let me know about it!
I sure will….thanks for your ideas. The recommendations for Marino works perfectly. I heard that the main fountain in Marino pours red wine! Best I have a pitcher with me…
A pitcher is a great idea…alla tua salute!
Thank you, Rick. This is very helpful and I hope to make Marino to witness the wine flow freely from the fountains. Let’s hope it doesn’t flow through the faucets of the homes this time!!
Enjoyed your post and have now found another Italian lovers site to check out now and then. Italian Talks is now in my toolbar.
I have been to Tivoli during several trips to Italy and love it. Even years ago did the night tour when I still had to travel in summer–which I don’t now.
I have never made it into Villa Gregoriana, but that will have to stay an unfulfilled wish. No way I could get down there and up at my age. I enjoyed a private guided tour of Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’ Este last January. Very expensive but so worth it to me.
Thanks again for your interesting posts.
Joan, as always, thanks for your comments. As many times as I’ve been to Tivoli/Villa D’Este, unfortunately I’ve never seen it at night, which I think would be beautiful. Yes, Villa Gregoriana is a hike at any age! But you can still see the temples at the top of the gorge. If I’m not wrong, one of them even serves as a (high-priced) wedding venue these days.