The ancient Tibur Superbum, as per Virgil’s definition, is located at the foot of Mounts Tibutini, west side of Rome. Famous for its mild climate and luxuriant vegetation since the Roman Age, even being a small city, it boasts two important UNESCO world heritage sites: the sixteenth-century Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana, Roman architectural complex.
Tivoli used to be one of the Roman favourite holiday destination, as precious shelter from the hot city in summer: some of the best Roman poets and artists used to spend their vacation here, while Roman nobles built up sumptuous villas and gardens during the XVI century.
The most important monument in town is Villa d’Este, realized in the XVI century over the ruins od a Benedictine monastery for the cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, son of Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonso I d’Este. The villa is so popular because of the unique artistic marvels inside, such as frescoes coming from the Roman school of Cinquecento and, above all, the splendid Italian style gardens. You will be fascinated by the sound and water games and fountains, whose water comes from the River Aniene through a pipe that goes underneath the historical centre. The Fontana dell’Organo and Fontana della Civetta have recently come back to play, after more than two centuries. Fontana dell’Organo reproduces four Renaissance pieces, while Fontana della Civetta simulate the chirping of birds. Other famous fountains are Bicchierone, maybe made by Bernini and the Rometta, miniature reproduction of Ancient Rome edifices.
Tivoli has to unveil another treasure: park of Villa Gregoriana, situated under the old acropolis where, among grottoes and woods, you will admire some important remains of Roman temples, like the Temple of Vesta and Temple of Sybils, both turned into churches during the Middle Ages. From the terraces of Villa Gregoriana you can be mesmerized by the spectacle and roar of the Grande Cascata (a 160 metres high waterfall).
The dome in Tivoli is a great peace of art, too. Rebuilt in a Baroque Style, in 1635 but still keeping the original Romanesque bell-tower. Beside the building there is the Mensa Ponderaria, a Roman public weighing machine, still exhibiting the ancient weights, marble towers and two stands with a number of samples.
Rocca Pia is an interesting quadrilateral fortress built up for want of Pius II, with the remains of the Anfiteatro di Bleso, that during the Imperial Age homed gladiatorial games.
Another great piece of art is Villa Adriana, a marvellous testimony of Roman urban architecture. This Villa is located nearby Villa d’Este and it is said that Emperor Adriano himself projected the villa, inspired by the elegant buildings of the Middle East Roman Empire regions.
Villa Adriana appears as a huge construction, willing to be remembered as an unique Roman villa not just for its dimension but also thanks to its elegant furniture and the particular patrician decoration. Villa Adriana is not just a simple villa, it’s more a sort of collection of gardens and buildings, among which theatres, thermal baths and libraries are really remarkable, carrying out the message of being part of an ancient culture, a history of harmony.
Just to mention a few "must see" buildings, we advice you to visit the Maritime theatre, the "Grandi e Piccole terme", the "Canopo", a little reproduction of the ancient Egiptian city, the Emperial palace, probably the Emperor Adriano residence, and the Greek theatre.
A full tour of Tivoli cannot miss a walk discovering the town starting from via Campitelli, one of the most typical medieval street crossing the centre, allowing you to admire the medieval houses and buildings, leading you all the way to "Porta San Pietro alla Carità", an historical church probably founded by Pope Simmarco in the fifth century.
Quite evocative are Via del Colle and Vicolo dei Ferri, where to can see a great number of towers and the church of Santo Stefano, which was turned into a theatre and finally in an house.
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