Hadrian's Villa/Villa D'Este
Revised July 4, 2004
It took us awhile to find this place because all of the guidebooks refer to it as Hadrian's Villa but the signs all say Villa Adriana. The `h' is silent in Italian so I could understand the word starting with `a' but the `a' at the end really confused us. We kept asking directions and people would either not understand us or direct us to this Villa Adriana which we did not want to see.
The Roman emperor's were not stupid and they all built summer homes outside the city to escape the summer heat in Rome. One of the first was built by Hadrian in the about 100. It covered 120 hectares (I think that is about 300 acres) and a lot of that was house and pools. Hadrian had returned from battles in Egypt and Greece and copied a lot of what he saw. There is a scale model of what it looked like and it was massive. Hadrian had underground tunnels built so that the servants could go from place to place without being seen by his guests. I wonder if Disney knew about Hadrian's Villa before he designed the tunnel system for DisneyWorld.
As you will see from the photos it takes a great deal of imagination to get a feel for what the villa actually looked like. Most of the art was carted off to other places and later to museums and just like the coliseum it became a quarry for other places in the area.
This is the Maritime Theater which was actually a private retreat within the private retreat for Hadrian. They would lower a wooden bridge for him to go to the island which had everything an entire hosue would have. He would spend days there thinking about ruling the Roman empire. .. sometimes with just young boys accompanying him.
The remains of a 'greek' theater on the property.
One of the many pools on the estate. It used to be completely lined with marble statutes.
This is one of the structures on the estate. They were setting up for a night time concert while we were there.
Hynda waiting for the bus back home. We are at the level of Hadrian's Villa. The town at the top fo the hill is Tivoli where the Villa d'Este is.
This is a Villa that was built in 1550 for a Cardinal. In sharp contrast to Hadrian's Villa this one is largely intact - it is 1400 years newer than Hadrian's Villa however. The cardinal it was built for, Cardinal d'Este, was the son of Lucrezia Borgia. That is the Borgia who has been accused of having husbands killed and having slept with both her father and her brother.
This place was spectacular. The villa was very large with lots of art. There was one exhibit of paintings that were done in 1890s and they were mostly of Rome. It was interesting to see the riverside and how it looked before the Lungotevere was built in the 20th century to prevent the Tiber from flooding.
Here are the photos from the Villa's gardens and fountains. This is Hynda in front of the 100 Fountains. Each one is a different animal spewing water.
Another fountain. There was a river running through the property and the designer diverted the river to create all these fountains. The water after passing through the property then cascades down creating a waterfall.
My favorite fountain.
Well - maybe this was my favorite fountain.
The structure above contains a hydraulic organ. Water pressure is used to compress air and play tunes.
And yet another fountain!!!