Villa d’Este is a 16th century Italian Renaissance-style garden just south-east of Rome, built on the ruins of an old Roman villa. It is most famous for its intricately designed system of fountains. In fact, there are fifty-one fountains, 398 spouts, 364 water jets, 64 waterfalls, and 220 basins. Even more impressive is the fact that these 875 meters of canals, channels and cascades of water flow simply by the force of gravity.
February in Italy may still be chilly, but the sky sure is blue. Spring is right around the corner, so, while there are no flowers in bloom, the grass is green and the temperatures are just beginning to rise. If you are in Rome and looking to take a super easy, fast, day trip from the city, this is the perfect place to go! The air is clean and fresh, the and views are incredible.
The villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este. This piece of land was acquired, and construction began at the end of 1550. Being at a high altitude, it became a popular summer destination, even during ancient Roman times, because of its cooler temperatures.
Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning it is recognized and protected by the United Nations for its historical significance. That being said, it hasn’t always been so treasured. In the 18th century, after, lack of maintenance led to decay. The collection of ancient statues was disassembled and scattered. As you can imagine, the roses and sculptures of foliage need to be preened frequently.
Luckily, halfway through the 19th century, Gustav von Hohelohe, saw the importance of restoring the villa to its original state and launched a few restoration projects.
Between 1867 and 1882 the villa again became the center of culture. It frequently hosted the Hungarian musician, Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886). He composed "Giochi d'acqua a Villa d'Este" on the piano here, and gave one of his final concerts at Villa D'Este in 1879.
At the outbreak of the first world war the villa became a property of the Italian State, and during the 1920's it was restored and opened to the public. Another restoration was carried out immediately after the Second World War to repair the damage caused by the bombing of 1944.
My favorite fountain was this one because it looks like a little boat with an obelisk mast inside! This fountain is called the "La Fontana della Rometta" and is a symbol for the island in the middle of the Tiber river, in Rome. Rometta, in fact, means "little Rome" in Italian. It was designed by Napolitan architect, Pirro Ligorio, and built by Renaissance architect, Curzio Maccarone, between 1567 and 1570 AD.
How to get there:
Take the train from Rome’s Tiburtina station directly to the small town of Tivoli. The train ticket costs about 2 euros. In just a little less than an hour, the train meanders through the Rome countryside, through the mountains, and ends in the small town of Tivoli.
From here, you can follow the signs over a bridge and across a few intersections until you reach Piazza (square) Trento with a church. The entrance to Villa D’Este is on the right side of the Church of Santa-Maria Maggiore. Entrance fee is 8 euros.
Tuesday - Thursday: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Friday: 8:30 am - 6:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm