Monday, November 16, 2020


Altitude 235 m (770 feet). 50,000 inhabitants

It was founded around 1215 BC as TIBUR

It was finally defeated by Rome in 338 BC at Pedum, corresponding to the current city of Gallicano

In the Middle Ages it was a free town and bishopric

It was independent until 1816 when it was annexed the Papal States until 1870

Duomo (Cathedral of San Lorenzo)

Maybe originally built during the fifth century on the area of ​​the ancient Roman Forum

Rebuilt during the eleventh/twelfth centuries

Of this reconstruction only the Romanesque BELL TOWER remains

Rebuilt again during the years 1635/1650 for Cardinal Giulio Roma


"Heavenly Glory, Saints and Stories of the Birth of Jesus" about 1655 by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi (1606/80) from Bologna


Four paintings "Stories of St. Lawrence": two above by Ludovico Gimignani (1643/97), two below by Pietro Locatelli (about 1637/1710), both pupils of Pietro Da Cortona


Wooden sculpture with "Deposition" 1220/25


"Stories of St. Lawrence" about 1817 by Carlo Labruzzi (1747/1817)


“Triptych of the Saviour with St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary” about XII sec., silver lining embossed with "Annunciation, saints and evangelists" maybe by the Benedictine monks of Farfa

Frescoes "Stories of Christ" 1650/52 by Vincenzo Manenti (1600/74)


Altar piece and frescoes "Stories of the Holy Persian martyrs" by Bartolomeo Colombo


Vault "Glory of St. Lawrence" by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi (1606/80) from Bologna

S. Pietro della Carità

 St. Peter of Charity

Built, according to tradition, at the end of the fifth century for the pope from Tivoli Simplicio (468/483) above a Roman villa, maybe originally owned by Quintus Cecilius Pius Metellus

Rebuilt during the twelfth century and restored and brought back to medieval forms in 1950 following the American bombing during the Second World War

S. Maria Maggiore

St. Mary Major

Built, according to tradition, at the end of the fifth century for the pope from Tivoli Simplicio (468/483)

Rebuilt during the twelfth century


Fragments of Cosmatesque floor

On the right "Wooden Crucifix" of the fifteenth century maybe by Baccio da Montelupo (1469/about 1523)

On the MAIN ALTAR "Our Lady of the Graces" maybe by Jacopo Torriti (active 1270/1300)

S. Silvestro

St. Sylvester

It was built in the twelfth century, originally with three naves, reduced to one in the seventeenth century

Opposite the church FOUNTAIN OF PIAZZA S. SILVESTRO, built in the sixteenth century by the same workers who were working during that same period in Villa d'Este


Frescoes "Legend of Emperor Constantine and St. Sylvester" second half of the twelfth century

Rocca Pia

Pius Fortress

1462 for pope Pius II Piccolomini (1458/64)

It was built with materials taken from the nearby Roman amphitheater

Villa Adriana

Hadrian’s Villa

The exact extension of the villa is not known but it was huge for sure, at least 120 hectares (300 acres), about twice as much as Pompeii, which had an extension of 63 hectares (156 acres) within the walls

The area is currently open to the public for about 40 hectares (100 acres)

It was built in three successive phases from 118 to 137 AD for the emperor Hadrian (117/138) above a pre-existing republican villa of the second century BC

Most of the buildings were completed in 125 (first phase 118/125) when Hadrian came back from his first trip to Greece and in the East

The part of the villa built at the time of Hadrian is almost all in mixed work (opus mixtum), one of the last examples of this type of construction that would not be used again during the Antonine period


1) Noble level for the emperor and his court

2) Lower floor for servants such as the 100 camerelle (small rooms)

3) Further lower floor with a system of underground tunnels for cars or pedestrians

The project is attributed to Hadrian himself who maybe was an architect and had as model the Ptolemaic Palace of Alexandria that occupied a third of the city and that was the model also for the Domus Aurea

Hadrian perhaps wanted to imitate other places here, especially Greek, according to a common practice at the time for at least 200 years: the Lyceum, the Academy, the Prytaneion, the Pecile in Athens, the Canopus in the Nile delta, the Valley of Tempe in Thessaly

The hypothesis that he would have reproduced the buildings which had struck him in his many travels in the provinces of the empire does not stand up, having made his trips after the construction of most of the villa

One source for this hypothesis is the book "Vita Hadriani" (Life of Hadrian) by Elius Spartianus from the "Historia Augusta" which, having been written at least 200 years after the age of Hadrian, is not very reliable

Hadrian’s travels were the clearest expression of the new conception of the empire after the conquests of his predecessor Trajan had brought the boundaries to the maximum expansion

Hadrian was born in Italica (7 km - 4.3 miles - from Seville) as Trajan, and was his secretary

Unlike Trajan, Hadrian was never officially adopted through an introduction in the Senate. His rise to power was the consequence of an alleged appointment made by Trajan dying

In reality it is very likely that this was a hoax organized by Plotina, wife of Trajan, who would have deftly orchestrated the operation, the so-called "conspiracy of women" including Vibia Sabina wife of Hadrian and daughter of Matidia, who was the sister of Trajan and who was deified by Hadrian after her death

He abandoned immediately the new provinces of Arabia and Mesopotamia conquered by Trajan and organized all the other provinces of the empire. He decided to visit the provinces in person in order to adapt the structures of the empire to the new needs

Steeped in the Greek culture, Hadrian was able to blend Hellenistic sophistication with the practical governing capacity of the Romans, and of this singular fusion we find the plastic expression in this villa

After his death the villa continued to be part of the assets of the imperial house

Over the centuries it suffered a slow decline and it was stripped of its marbles, used in many buildings and medieval churches

The majority of the names of the villa’s locations belongs to the imagination of Pirro Ligorio (about 1513/83) who began excavations in the villa in 1549 for Ippolito d'Este

In the early 1700s much of the villa was acquired by the Conte family who began a campaign of excavations and adorned it with cypress trees and vines

After the unification of Italy the villa became public

Excellent restoration work was carried out in the 1950s and also the 1970s with the relocation of the dome in the Great Baths

At least 500 sculptures were found in the villa


Big cypress close to the Nymphaeum with the Temple of Venus (diameter 4.30 m - 14 feet) in whose trunk a hackberry grew

Nearby there is a unique taxus baccata shaped as an umbrella

Near the Canopus there is a beautiful olive tree of more than 5 m (16.5 feet) in diameter



Large rectangular area bounded by a wall 9 m (30 feet) high and about 90 (300 feet) long, through which there are the current entrances to the villa

The retaining wall was surrounded by a portico that curved around the ends of the wall itself: it was the Porticus Miliaria used for shaded walks with easily measurable distances

It was originally surrounded by a peristyle, inspired by the Pecile, the famous painted portico in Athens, around a large body of water, used as a fishpond

The place, according to tradition, was used for walks in the afternoon

The lower west side with concave shape opens to the panorama of the Roman countryside

One Hundred Small Rooms


In order to support the wide esplanade of the Pecile, it was necessary to construct a building of about 15 m (49 feet) in height, divided into many rooms spread over four floors plus a portico on the top floor

They were probably small rooms for the servants


New excavations between the one hundred rooms and the so-called vestibule have revealed a road strangely shaped as an oval circus of unknown use, in front of three temples with a base for a statue in the center

They are probably the Temple of Antinous with, at the sides, the Temples of Isis and Osiris

Some scholars believe it is the tomb of Antinous although the inscriptions on the Pinciano Obelisk found in the Palazzo Sessoriano say it was placed on the tomb of Antinous and the tomb of Antinous was in the garden of the emperor in Rome

So maybe not here but in the gardens of Adonis on Palatine Hill from which also come the round panels of the Arch of Constantine

In Hadrian's Villa were found at least ten statues of Antinous; it is believed that at least 2,000 statues must have existed in ancient times of which there are currently 115 extanting

"Heliocaminus Baths" or Sudatio


Maybe it was a hall for sunbathing described by the sources. The sun would have come through the windows on the walls that are now gone. Most probably it was a sudatio (or laconicum), a room for sauna heated also with stoves

"Hall of the Philosophers" or Library


Hall with an apse, whose name derives from the seven niches in the back wall, where it was assumed, probably mistakenly considering the small depth, there would be statues of the seven sages

It was actually almost certainly a library and the seven niches would have contained wooden cabinets

"Maritime Theatre"


The name was arbitrarily coined by Pirro Ligorio

It is perhaps the one building that best reveals the complex personality of Hadrian

Small island with curved vestibule, divided into small rooms with very varied design, completely surrounded by an annular channel. It is framed by a round portico supported by forty columns with architraves bearing traces of friezes with Mermen and Nereids

Access was originally allowed through two drawbridges made of wood operable only from the inside, so to guarantee privacy for the emperor

There was a small spa area and a library

Hadrian could have enjoyed a great linear perspective with water games completed by a fountain

The model of this building is the Palace of Syracuse by Dionysius the Elder of the fifth century BC, where, as Plato wrote, there was an island

Courtyard of the “Libraries”


One of the three great peristyles of the so-called Palace is surrounded by a portico with Corinthian columns

It owes its name to the adjacent buildings, traditionally called "LATIN LIBRARY" 9 and "GREEK LIBRARY" 7

Two twin buildings, vertical as tower, thought to be summer triclinia (dining rooms) by some scholars, in place of the traditional misidentification as libraries


"Hospitalia" or Barracks for the Praetorians


On the north side of the peristyle there is a long building, originally two-story high, divided into ten rooms connected by a wide corridor, completed by a spacious lounge which was maybe a place for worship

There were two latrines at the corners

Each room had three rectangular alcoves and mosaic floors with black and white tiles

Near the barracks there is the MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE VILLA with narrow and small doors to facilitate checks

Imperial Triclinium


Black and white mosaic floors with geometric and floral motifs, some of the best preserved in the whole villa

Maybe it was just destined to middle-ranking staff of the Emperor, perhaps the officers of the court pretoria

Terrace and Pavilion of Tempe

Large terrace 4, extending beyond the "Hospitalia" on the charming little valley 11 of the Acqua Ferrata stream, to which Adriano wanted to give the name of a valley of the Greek region of Thessaly, famous in mythology and classical poetry

Unfortunately it was ruined by awful modern constructions that have not spared even this territory

Imperial Palace


Core of the imperial residence built over a preexisting republican villa of the second century BC. Some rooms and single walls of the villa were kept in the new palace


In the majestic halls at the heart of the palace Hadrian exercised his imperial authority

It is the second of the three large colonnaded courtyards of the villa

It is overlooked by a large room with a basilica plan divided in three naves. In the floor five panels decorated with polychrome mosaic were inserted, now no longer here

To the east are the PALACE GARDENS 21


It was maybe the great peristyle that preceded the ROYAL HALL WITH APSE for the emperor

It stands out for his severe linearity in the pletora of curved lines that characterizes the villa of Hadrian

Hadrian however did not fail to leave his mark in the innovative barrel vault of the peristyle and in the extension of the pillars, which acquire a completely different character than the traditional Doric order with an antiquarian connotation and a retrospective taste. It was a sign of appreciation for the archaic world and the Attic style

Probably the hall was originally open as the walls are too thin to support a covered vault

It was originally paved with marble

Golden Square


Large open space of almost square shape made with high quality materials and architectural solutions celebrated by scholars and architects, including Francesco Borromini (1599/67) who visited and drew these mixtilinear structures that no doubt inspired him with their play of alternation between concave and convex surfaces


Topped with a dome made of spherical segments supported by eight columns

At the center there were large fountains

In one of the adjacent rooms some of the most beautiful mosaics of the villa were kept


Bordered by a double portico with sixty granite and cipollino marble columns, overlooked by the magnificent imperial hall

Here were found portraits of Sabina, Marcus Aurelius and Caracalla now at the National Museum of Palazzo Massimo

Probably this area of ​​the villa was a large imperial triclinium dedicated to banquets

On either side of the central hall, that maybe was roofless, there are areas covered by barrel vaults: probably the main room was a coenatio (dining room)

Towards the valley at a lower level there are remains of an arena for gladiators 26 and further on maybe a stadium 27

Firemen's Barracks


Multi-story building around a central courtyard, called Firemen’s Barracks because it is similar to the one found in Ostia

It is definitely a service structure maybe for firefighters or for servants, possibly used as kitchen or warehouse, but more likely it was the barracks for the Praetorians

Building with Fish Pool


On three levels: intermediate level of service (lower) and upper and lower floors with suspensurae (small pillars raising the floor so that hot steam could be channeled under the floor in order the warm up the room) that prompted some scholars to define the building as "Winter Palace"

At the center large vivarium (pool) for fish

It was maybe the actual area where Hadrian would have lived

Nymphaeum (So-called Stadium)


Structure near the Pecìlea once thought to be a stadium

Excavations of 1958 made it possible to identify it as a nymphaeum (monumental fountain), with a semi-circular pool and fountains with rich water games

To the east of the house a portico with fishpond overlooks, while to the west, there is a building divided in two sections

Here was found the beautiful "Niobide Chiaramonti" now in the Gregorian-Profane Museum in the Vatican

Small Baths


Maybe for women, with an octagonal room, a tepidarium (room for medium temperature baths), and a room with an elliptical shape with two basins in the apses

The pool was lined with marble staircases

It was one of the most opulent buildings of the villa. Maybe it was connected to the palace

Large Baths


Maybe for men, with the typical succession of rooms in Roman thermal baths, that here are visible backwards: the frigidarium, the room intended for cold baths, a huge hall with an apse and a circular room

In other rooms the pipes are still visible, passing under the floors, for the circulation of the steam generated by boilers, the praefurnia



It is in fact not a vestibule, but maybe rooms and gardens of passage between Pecile and Canopus with large lararium (area dedicated to the worship of the gods of the family) of Hadrian’s family

Here there was maybe a secondary entrance

Building with three Exedra


Two wings: one with open spaces and the other with heated rooms and precious marbles

Maybe it was a sumptuous vestibule to the building with fish pool, which was probably the private residence of Hadrian

“Praetorian Pavilion”


The identification as accommodation for the Praetorian guards is definitely wrong

It was maybe functioning as accommodation for servants or even used as a warehouse



Located in a small valley, it is inspired by the Egyptian Canopus, the waterway that connected Alexandria to the ancient city of Canopus, about 20 km (12.4 miles) away, where Antinous, the handsome emperor's favorite, had drowned

At the center of the channel, under water, there are two bases for two sculptural groups of Scilla

At the far end of the channel there is a large semicircular nymphaeum known as SERAPEUM, covered by a half dome divided into segments and covered with white mosaic. It mimics the shape of the Serapeum in Rome at the Campus Martius

The walls are punctuated by niches for statues. Water would have flown down the steps and would have been collected in an external basin

It was a large dining room (triclinium) known as stibàdion (semicircular triclinia) maybe built in honor of Antinous

Excavations of the Canopus in the 1950s have unearthed sculptures and statues, now on display in large part in the Vatican Museums and in the Capitoline Museums

Of those presented in the MUSEUM OF THE CANOPUS 40, faithful casts were placed around the channel that allow to picture the original decoration:

"Four Maidens Caryatids" copy of the Korai by Callimacus, pupil of Phidias (Korai = women from Caria in Turkey, prisoners of the Athenians) from the Erechtheum in Athens

"Two Sileni Canephori", carrying baskets on their heads

"Personifications of the Nile and Tiber Rivers"

"Young Warrior with Helmet"



Two "Amazons Wounded" from the original by Phidias (about 490/430 BC) and Polykleitos of Argos (about 490/425 BC)

"Crocodile" of cipollino marble

Summer Residence

From the Museum of the Canopus a steep path leads to this peripheral part of the villa, located in a splendid panoramic position, at the center of a historic olive grove

Perhaps the difference in exposure between the second group and this group of buildings overlooking the Risicoli Valley allowed the emperor to live in the palace overlooking Tivoli during the winter and in the Little Palace with views towards the Roman countryside during the summer

Tower of Roccabruna


The square base remains visible. In the main façade there are two large semicircular niches

Inside there is a large octagonal hall, covered by a dome

Academy or Little Palace


Much of this monument is still to be excavated

Around a peristyle there are several buildings, including a hexagonal pavilion and the TEMPLE OF APOLLO, fine round room with two floors, covered by a dome, now lost

Here were found the "Two Centaurs" in gray marble now at the Capitoline Museums

Further north is the ODEON 47

Circular temple of Venus Cnidia


Exiting the archaeological site, along an avenue of cypresses that starts from the Pecile, it is possible to reach a clearing in the trees, at the center of which this temple was rebuilt in 1958, using original architectural fragments, an exact copy of the Temple of the Venus of Cnidus

At the center is the cast of a Roman copy of the Venus of Cnidus from the original by Praxiteles (about 395/326 BC), kept in the Museum of the Canopus

On the right of the temple, at the bottom of a lane, are the remains of the SO-CALLED GYM 2 that recent excavations have established to be probably a big sanctuary of Isis

Further on LITTLE GREEK THEATRE 1 with part of the stands and of the stage

It is one of the few places in the whole villa that might actually correspond to the name given in 1500s, having a circular orchestra according to the model for the Greek theaters described by Vitruvius

Villa D'Este

1550/72 Pirro Ligorio (about 1513/83) for Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (Ferrara 1509 / Tivoli 1572), son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia

Julius III del Monte (1550/55) wanted to thank the cardinal by appointing him governor for life of Tivoli for his contribution made to the papal election

The governor's residence was originally an old and uncomfortable Benedictine convent run by Franciscan friars and Ippolito II decided to transform it

Pirro Ligorio took advantage of a huge number of artists and craftsmen

The construction, however, followed the vicissitudes of the cardinal who was dismissed by Paul IV Carafa (1555/59), then restored in the post by Pius IV Medici (1559/65) in 1560, then affected by the bad relations of Pius V Ghislieri (1566/72) with the French, who had always been the cardinal’s best allies

More land was acquired from two churches of different orders with operations that lasted until 1566. The Aniene River was conveyed with new tunnels coming from the falls

Materials from the Tomb of Cecilia Metella were used

The cardinal had just enough time to enjoy the opening of the villa in September 1572 with the visit of Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85), and then, two months later, he died

Subsequent owners of the villa after Ippolito II d'Este were two other d'Este cardinals: Luigi d'Este until 1586 and Alessandro d'Este until 1624, who mantained it and renewed it

Ercole III d'Este left it to her daughter Maria Beatrice wife of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, through whom passed to the Habsburgs family

It was eventually left to wither away with the scattering of the antique collections, until mid-1800, when one member of the Hohenlohe family fell in love with it, restored it and put back in the center of mundane activities

One of the attendees was Franz Liszt who found in the villa inspiration for some of his musical compositions

In 1918 it passed to the Italian state, it was restored and opened it to the public

Other restorations were made after World War II to repair bomb damage

The decorations were made by a large group of artists led by Livio Agresti (about 1508/79) from Forlì


"Fountain of Sleeping Venus"



Ceiling "Feast of the gods with portraits of Apollo, Bacchus, Diana and Ceres" started by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92) and completed by Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609)


Frescoes "Stories of Catillus legendary founder of Tivoli" by Livio Agresti


Ceiling "Quadriga of Phoebus" by Livio Agresti

Frescoes "Legendary stories of Tivoli: story of King Anius and his daughter Inone" (she was transformed into the Sibyl Albunea) by Antonio Tempesta (about 1555/1630) and schools of Zuccari, Livio Agresti and Girolamo Muziano. The same artists also painted the frescoes "Stories of Noah and Moses" in the ROOMS IV, V and VI


"Council of the Gods" and "Labors of Hercules" by artists of the school of Girolamo Muziano

ROOM VIII (Room of the Philosophers)

Paintings with "Allegories of Virtues, Sciences and Arts"

"Busts of ancient philosophers"

OLD APARTMENT (Downstairs) - Ten rooms:


"Holy Family and portrait of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese" maybe by Pietro Bonaccorsi aka Perin del Vaga (1501/47)

ROOM II (formerly library)

Copy of Raphael’s painting "Fornarina" by Sebastiano Luciani aka Sebastiano del Piombo (1485/1547)

Copy of the "Holy Family" by Daniele da Volterra (1509/66)

ROOM III (formerly bedroom)

"Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist" maybe by Antonio Allegri aka Correggio (1489/1534)

"St. Andrew" by Daniele da Volterra


"Christ Carrying the Cross" by Girolamo Muziano


Two copies from originals by Barocci


"Madonna of Reggio" by Livio Agresti


"Landscape" by Paul Brill (1554/1626)


A central longitudinal axis and five main transverse axises

Pirro Ligorio exploited the old city walls as buttresses for the embankment, and calculated exactly how much water was needed to run all the fountains

He built a piping system and a long tunnel about 600 m (2,000 feet) long, under the city, which brought water from the Aniene River to a basin: the water flow rate was as much as 300 liters (80 gallons) per second

All the fountains were therefore fed without any mechanical device, but only by exploiting the natural pressure and the principle of communicating vessels

35,000 m² (8.6 acres) of gardens in total, 250 jets, 60 pools of water, 255 waterfalls, 100 tanks, 50 fountains, 20 exedras and terraces, 30,000 plants in seasonal rotation, 150 centuries-old tall trees, 15,000 ornamental plants and perennials trees, 9,000 m² (2.3 acres) of paths, walkways and ramps


Large pathway parallel to the façade of the building for about 200 m (660 feet), with the Grand Loggia on one side and the Europa Fountain on the other


1568/69, at the end of the Vialone on the left, although it was never fully completed

It is also known as Cenacolo (dining room) because it was often used as a location for outdoor meals

The view from here is extraordinary


Coming out of the villa, to the left of a path

Mosaics of stone, stucco, bas-reliefs and enamel decorations of Lola and Paolo Calandrino and Curzio Maccarone

Few traces remain of the colorful majolica floor

On the walls stucco reliefs of branches of quince and fruit baskets as well as high reliefs with Neptune, Minerva, Caryatids, Muses with eyes made out of precious stones and five mythological scenes:

1) Transformation of Daphne, who in order to escape from Apollo, was turned into laurel

2) Andromeda freed by Perseus, having been chained as an offering to a sea monster in order to appease the wrath of Poseidon

3) Metamorphosis of the hunter Actaeon into a stag, made by Artemis, to punish him for daring to spy on her naked

4) Transformation of Syrinx into hollow water reeds, in order to escape the love of god Pan

5) Callisto is transformed into a bear, for the jealousy of Hera against Zeus


1661 Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) for Cardinal Rinaldo d'Este (1598/1680)

Also called "Fountain of the Lily", placed under the Loggia of Pandora, on the main axis of the garden


On the Vialone, opposite the Grand Loggia, with the shape of a triumphal arch

There was the sculpture, now in Villa Albani Torlonia in Rome, of Europa abducted by the white bull and a marble basin


Circular pool with rock on which there is the winged horse Pegasus, born of the beheading of Medusa: when on Mount Helicon, banging his hoof, gushed out the source of Hippocrene, sacred to the muses

In the background, the Romanesque church of St. Peter of Charity, towards which one of the gates of Villa d'Este open


Pirro Ligorio (about 1513/83). On an avenue 100 m (330 feet) long that connects the Ovato Fountain with the Rometta

One hundred jets in two overlapping rows of masks with anthropomorphic forms adorned with symbols dear to the Cardinal:

Obelisks, small ships, lilies of France and eagles (added in 1685 by Francesco II of Modena) symbols of the Este family, the boat of St. Peter as a symbol of papal power

Here was filmed the banquet scene of the movie Ben Hur


1567 Pirro Ligorio. To the left of the Avenue of the Hundred Fountains, also known as the Fountain of Tivoli

In this fountain the water coming from the Aniene River is collected and distributed to other fountains

Rocks and boulders placed by Curzio Maccarone to create a scene representing the Tiburtini Mountains where the three rivers are generated:

At the center is the Sybil Albunea or Tiburtina, by Giglio della Vellita symbolizing the ALBUNEO RIVER

In the flanking niches there are two statues by Giovanni Malanca representing the RIVERS ANIENE and ERCULANEO

On top of the rock the Pegasus Fountain is visible, which seems to fit into the Ovato Fountain

In the pillars of the semicircular nymphaeum TEN FOUNTAINS executed by G.B. Della Porta (1542/1602) and designed by Pirro Ligorio

On the right side of the square FOUNTAIN OF BACCHUS

In two rooms facing the square of the fountain there is the LABORATORIO MUSEO DIDATTICO DEL LIBRO ANTICO (Laboratory and Educational Museum of Ancient Books) venue for international seminars, conferences and educational activities, dealing with the study, restoration, conservation and technical and scientific reconstruction of ancient paper documents from papyrus documents through printed ones


At the center of the garden. Also known as the Fontana della Girandola (Fountain of the Catherine Wheel) for the hydraulic mechanisms devised by Tommaso da Siena reproducing gunshots and blasts

It was made, according to legend, in one night, in 1572 by Pirro Ligorio, as a tribute to Gregory XIII Boncompagni, guest at the villa, whose emblem had winged dragons

It is more likely that the forthcoming pope's visit convinced Luigi D'Este to erect the fountain

Four dragons arranged in a circle, with their backs turned to each other

Niche within which there is a large “Statue of Hercules” representing his eleventh labor: for the golden apples of the Garden of the Hesperides he killed the dragon Ladon with hundred heads


Designed in 1570 by Pirro Ligorio and maybe even by Ippolito II himself, executed by the fountains expert and plumber Luigi Maccarone

The Rometta Belvedere open towards the Roman plain

Large basin with a central representation of Rome sitting on a throne. It was partially demolished during the nineteenth century


Conceived as outdoor dining area

It was designed as "Fountain of the Emperors", but the emperor statues were never carved, and during the seventeenth century was installed the stucco sculptural group of Pluto kidnapping Persephone (Proserpina in Italian), as two Sileni play sea harps and two dolphins shake the water

The statues of Persephone and of the dolphins are now lost


1596 Raffaello Sangallo, designed by Giovanni Del Duca

So called for the mechanism with metal birds that appeared on bronze branches in the niche of the fountain, emitting chirps

Another mechanism made an owl appear, frightening the other birds with its howl and keeping them quiet. The mechanism has been ruined over time, and only after a recent restoration one has been remade recreated partly like the original

Other parts have been lost: the nymphaeum mosaics, reliefs and statues


It was built during the years 1568/1611

It owes its name to the mechanism that used to emit organ sounds

It is another proto-Baroque tall building by Pirro Ligorio, with a façade including floral and marine decorations and four colossal telamons by Pirrin del Gagliardo

Statues of Apollo and Diana in the side niches

Aedicula by Gian Lorenzo Bernini to protect the hydraulic organ

Contraption devised by Claudio Vernard

Several attempts were made to restore the mechanism, and only with the last works the fountain sounded again

It was originally decorated with a statue of Diana of Ephesus now in the Fountain of Abundance. It overlooks the Neptune Fountan


1927 Attilio Rossi with Emo Salvi who incorporated a pre-existing nymphaeum by Pirro Ligorio which included the current "Statue of Neptune"

It is the most imposing fountain of the villa. It replaced a waterfall designed by Bernini which was very much damaged


Three large rectangular basins for breeding valuable freshwater fish, eventually caught by guests

There were in fact kiosks to rest and to keep fishing equipment


It is almost at the center of the parapet of the terrace

It is named after a statue representing Ariadne sleeping which used to be located in the central niche


Two fountains in the lower part of the garden in the middle of two flowerbeds

Three large circular boulders, one on top of each other in descending orde, and covered with moss


Also known as Fountain of Abundance, near the boundary wall and the old entrance

In front of a background decorated with tiburtino tartar, a calcareous concretion much used in this lower part of the garden, there is a copy of "Diana of Ephesus" with many breasts, originally commissioned to the Flemish artist Gillis Van den Vliete by Ippolito II to decorate the Organ Fountain

Alessandro d'Este had it moved in 1611 to its current position, more hidden, as to not offend the principles of the Counter-Reformation and in its place he had the hydraulic organ built that gave a new name to the upper fountain


Near the old entrance

Four low fountains arranged in a circle in the rotunda of the centuries-old cypress trees, with small jets, and triple basins made out of travertine

In the garden there are also:


Villa Gregoriana

Very steep valley, formerly known as Valle dell'Inferno (Hell Valley), excavated at the foot of the ancient acropolis of Tivoli by the Aniene River, in the place where the river enters the Roman countryside

The overall height that the Aniene falls down through the valley, today with two falls (originally there were four), is about 130 m (426 feet)

Since ancient times, the river, which formed a large loop around the Acropolis and streamed down towards the limestone plain, would periodically and dramatically flood, continuing to dig the river bed: Pliny the Younger described one which took place in 105 AD

It is a public park wanted by Gregory XVI Cappellari (1831/46) in 1832/35 to address otherwise the flow of the Aniene with two parallel tunnels beneath Mount Catillo 280 m (919 feet) long, designed by Clemente Folchi after the disastrous flood of 1826 which had swept the city

Gregorian Bridge

It was built across the ancient bed of the river which had been diverted, and now only the river bed for surplus water

It was a "useful" gift from the pope to the people of Tivoli. It was destroyed by bombing in 1944 and rebuilt

Roman Ruins

Burial area dating back to the imperial period of ancient Rome, ancient Valerius Bridge and aqueduct that carried water from the Aniene River into the villa of Manlius Valpiscus, the consul of the year 14 AD

HORSESHOE TERRACE from which it is possible to see the BIG WATERFALL

Down in the middle of the park STIPA CHANNEL and NEPTUNE AND SIRENS CAVES with stalactites

Up through the park on the other side, MIOLLIS GALLERY small tunnel dug by the French General Miollis in 1809

Above is the acropolis known as CASTROVETERE with the ROUND TEMPLE (also known as Temple of Vesta but maybe dedicated to the tenth Sibyl Albunea from Tivoli) of the late second century BC, and the RECTANGULAR TEMPLE (maybe dedicated to Tiburnus) mid-second century BC, later transformed into the church of St. George

Other archaeological sites in Tivoli

Mensa Ponderaria

Office for checking weights and measures of the food trade. Two niches lined with two distinct building phases

It was built for M. Varenus Diphilus, who also commissioned the construction of the AUGUSTEUM HALL southwest of the Mensa Ponderaria with a trapezoidal apse (4.10 x 5.5 m - 13.4 x 18 feet)


Discovered in 1948, excavated since 1957, built with mixed work technique (opus mixtum)

Lucano Bridge

Five arches: four are visible, the fifth is buried, the third arch was cut and restored already in ancient times

Tomb of the Plautii

10/14 AD high cylinder covered with travertine blocks reused in the Middle Ages as a watchtower to protect the bridge

There are various inscriptions of members of the Plautii family belonging to the Aniensis tribe originally from Trebula Suffenas (Ciciliano)

Villa of Cassius

End of the republic/beginning of the empire

Three terraces of substructures oriented west

Here were found in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries important sculptures now in the Vatican Museums

Villa known as Brutus’ Villa

Just north of that of Cassius with base characterized by hanging netting two colors with geometric designs

Republican Villa known as Horace’s Villa

About 75/50 BC on three levels

The upper terrace is occupied by a modern building

The two lower terraces are oriented differently towards the landscape. At the lower level there are three rooms: the two at the sides are tanks, the middle one is a nympheum with a barrel vault

Villa of Quintilius Varus

Friend of Virgil and Horace and relative of the Varus who was defeated in Teutoburg in 13 BC

Beneath there is the CHIESETTA DELLA MADONNA DI QUINTILIOLO (Small Church of Our Lady of Quintiliolo), consisting of several buildings dating back from the late republican period to the second century AD

It is the largest villa in this area, a little less than 6 hectares (15 acres)

Tomb of the Vestal Virgin Cossinia

Funerary monument with five steps in travertine and marble altar with dosserets (impost blocks) dated to the second or third century AD

Temple of Tosse

First half of the fourth century AD

The use is unknown: it is not known if it was a tomb of the Tuscia gens, a nympheaum, a temple of Venus, a temple to the Sun god, or more likely the atrium of a monumental villa, transformed into a church by the name of S. Maria di Porta Scura

Temple of Hercules the Winner

About 90/82 BC, enormous: the square portico on three sides measures about 152 x 119 m (500 x 390 feet)

Suburban sanctuary built on gigantic substructures of uncertain work technique (opus incertum) with filled-up arches, on the site of a villa of the republican period belonging to the Cecilii Metelli, twice the size of the temple which was included in the villa itself

The temple at the center of the structure was peripteros sine postico (surrounded by columns except for the rear) of 42 x 25 m (138 x 82 feet)

It was built on a large podium and it was probably accessed by two staircases at the sides

The temple faces a large theater of about 70 m (230 feet)

The VIA TIBURTINA (road from Rome to Tivoli) crosses the temple with an underground tunnel with a barrel vault and tabernae for trade on both sides

It was the seat of an oracle based as that of Fortuna Prenestina on the extraction of the so called sortes

It was eventually occupied by a convent and then by a paper mill

The cult of Hercules protector of transhumant flocks was one of the largest in the Lazio region and originated here: it was brought to Rome in the late republican period

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