The Villas of Tivoli

Guest blogger Sarah Murphy has worked in Dublin for the last two years as a blogger, web content manager and marketing coordinator. A journalist by training and travel junkie by nature, she regularly travels to Italy for both business and to tour Rome where she mostly spends her time in search of the perfect gelato.

There isn't a more brilliant place than Tivoli to find some of the most beautiful structures known as Villas. Particularly there are two villas that are often the focus of people's interests: The Villa d'Este and Hadrian's Villa. These two villas are often visited, and can even be found in a variety of day trip tours from Rome, but what are those villas and what do they have to offer, that draws so many people to them?

Villa d'Este

This slightly smaller of the two villas, Villa d'Este was built with the design of Italian Renaissance architecture in mind and continues to be one of the most well preserved versions of such art. Originally this Villa was built and commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, and completed around 1572. Today the Villa is mostly surrounded by gardens and other forms of nature and art. It possesses one of the more beautiful views of the expanse Italy has to offer within a Valley, especially when seen from one of the balconies.

The main entrance taken into the Villa is held by a fountain of dragons. It should come as no surprise that this entrance shows exactly how the rest of this place is. Statues litter the corridors with the most famous piece being 'The Sleeping Nymph.' However the Villa is most famous for the fountains it has to offer, including the unique work supposedly done by Bernini called, 'Fountain of the Great Cup.' Much of this Villa today is often compared to nearby Villa Adriana which is much older and has the same kind of architecture . It has been repaired multiple times over, and still sometimes holds an issue with certain areas being a little more overgrown than normal. But for the most part the entire structure is still kept up and restored regularly.

Hadrian's Villa

This Villa is more a city than a single structure or house, composed of theaters, palaces, libraries, temples and more. The massive complex covers a vast amount of the hills in Tivoli, and provides some exquisite ancient Roman architecture. It was originally built as a vacation home for the Roman Emperor Hadrian which is why it still retains that name. While it is not exactly restructured and repaired as much as Villa d'Este is, it does manage to show off some amazing ruins of what is currently still left.

The most famous part of this Villa comes with the Maritime Theatre which was built with a moat around it. Ruins and mosaics are not the only thing to be found with this Villa— it also houses some rather famous artifacts and antiques that have either been unearthed from it in archeological excavation, or still remain there as statues. You can find the 'Crouching Venus' which was excavated and now resides in the National Museum in Rome. A few others were the discobolus of Myron, the Diana of Versailles, and a few centaurs.

As you can imagine both of these Villas are quite different, one still maintained as buildings and mostly together, and the other almost entirely in ruins with some of it still not excavated. Not to mention the architectural design between the two being quite different. This provides an interesting contrast in a single experience and all right nearby each other too. So why not get exposed to both modern and ancient Rome?

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