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.