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Villa d'Este

A fine home featuring an incredible Italian Renaissance garden, complete with some very impressive fountains.

TravelCurious Tip

Don’t miss the wonderful and recently restored Fontana della Civetta (Owl Fountain), with its mechanism that imitates birdsong - it functions every two hours from 10 AM.

Renaissance plunder

Located in Tivoli, approximately 16 miles outside of Rome, is the beautiful Renaissance Villa d’Este. It was built in 1550 by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, a member of one of the oldest and noblest Italian families, and son to Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. Through his mother he was the grandson of the infamous Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI.

Together with his architect Pirro Ligorio, Cardinal d’Este created a space that combined the luxury of ancient Roman palaces with contemporary comfort. The ancient Roman element was achieved with some efficiency by simply ransacking the ruins of an actual Roman palace close by – Hadrian’s Villa. Cardinal d’Este took marble and sculpture from the site to ornament his new home.

Giochi d’acqua

The resulting décor of the villa is a mixture of classical sculpture and Renaissance art, and naturally the d’Este eagle, which was the family sigil, adorns much of the property. There are fascinating mosaics, such as the piece in the Grotto of Diana which depicts mythological scenes of the hunt goddess. The villa overlooks the sloping gardens, and from its terraces you can get some spectacular views of the scenery.

The gardens, with their marvellous complex of fountains, troughs, cascades, jets and pools, are a feat of hydraulic engineering. Among the most impressive is the Fountain of the Ephesian Goddess, who spouts water from each of her 16 breasts. The Fontana del Bicchierone is a fantastic seashell-inspired goblet designed by the indomitable Bernini, more of whose sculpture can be seen at Galleria Borghese. The Rometta Fountain represents Rome as a goddess; Ligorio’s Fontana dell’Ovato shows Venus emerging from her famous seashell. These two are linked by an avenue called Le Cento Fontane (Hundred fountains), which features around one hundred fountains in the shapes of boats, lilies, obelisks, and, of course, eagles, gurgling into a long channel. This is a truly magical place, and a masterpiece of Renaissance gardening.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
Catacombs
An underground network of ancient Christian burial grounds.
National Museum of Rome
The Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi and Baths of Diocletian - plenty to see here.
Appian Way
This ancient Roman road goes outside the city walls and is crammed with fascinating sights.
Hadrian's Villa
Secluded in the valley of Tivoli, Hadrian's Villa is the former magnificent palace of one of Rome's greatest emperors.
Archbasilica of St. John in the Lateran
Said to be the oldest in the world, this is the mother of all Christian churches.
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
This spectacular Baroque church is one of the four most important in Rome.

Related Tours

Escape To Tivoli Private Tour inc Transportation: Villa D'Este and Hadrian's Villa
Jump into your private car and cruise towards Tivoli, a day of tranquil escape. 

  • Visit the monumental Hadrian's Villa - so large it was once thought to be a city in itself.
  • Jump 1500 years forward in time to the Villa d'Este, one of the most beautiful villas in Italy.
  • Walk through the world-famous Villa d'Este gardens.
  • Learn all about Roman history from past to present.
  • Travel with your own private car and guide out to Tivoli.
First stop on this private tour from Rome to Tivoli is Hadrian’s villa, a place where natural beauty, architectural creativity, art and history come together with a magic that has no equal in all of Europe. Boasting an intriguing mix of Greek and Egyptian monuments, the villa represents  the aesthetic sensibility of Hadrian and the artists of the period, subsequently influencing many artists from the Renaissance onwards.

Strolling from the huge arcades of the entrance through to the Throne Room, you will visit the Greater Baths, the Vestibule, the Academy, the Palestra, the Greek Theatre, the Private Library, the Maritime Theatre and the famous Canopy - a valley with a canal surrounded by arcades and statues. With your expert guide, you will learn about the intelligent Hadrian, youthful Antinous, and their tragic love story. 

Your experience will fast-forward in time nearly 1,500 years as you reach the Villa d’Este, one of the most beautiful palaces and gardens in Italy. Uncover the intriguing and controversial history of this infamous family with your guide.  After a refreshing walk through the gardens and fountains of the villa you will be driven back to your hotel, where you can relax and think about the wonderful treasures that you have just seen and on this special Rome private tour.
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