Tivoli and its villas: The Beverly Hills of Rome in Ancient and Renaissance times

Just twenty miles from Rome is the little site of Tivoli with its beautiful hills. The tour covers first the Villa Adriana, the incredible residence of the Emperor Hadrian, a unique mix of nature and architecture. A walk through the Peristylium and the libraries is necessary in order to admire the Teatro Marittimo. This minuscule palace within a palace is isolated in the middle of an artificial lake. It was the emperor's private relaxing place. The umbrella-shaped domes of the Piazza d'Oro come into view after crossing the ruins of the Central Palace. It is here that emperors held the banquets for the Imperial Court. The next stop is the Grandi Terme, the major spa of Hadrian. Following is the Canopo, a fantastic reconstruction of the Nile River with its varied Egyptian landscapes. Next is the Villa d'Este in the centre of Tivoli. Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, il "papa mancato", the son of Lucretia Borgia, built the villa in the 1500's, with a unique hydraulic engineered system including metres of pipes, sprays, fountains, and the oldest artificial waterfall (by Bernini)--a lost paradise! Also, this is home to the first hydraulic organ (after the Ancient Greek ones) that still plays its melodious music while refreshing sprays of the Fountain of Neptune and the calm waters of the Peschiere are beautiful as well as refreshing. The cardinal often used this area to raise fish for his luxurious banquets.

This is a full day tour, and it is better to have a rental car to fully enjoy the area.

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