The Villa d'Este is a 16th-century villa in Tivoli, near Rome, famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and especially for its profusion of fountains: the extraordinary system contains fifty-one fountains and nymphaeums, 398 spouts, 364 water jets, 64 waterfalls, and 220 basins, fed by 875 meters of canals, channels and cascades, and all working entirely by the force of gravity, without pumps. It is now an Italian state museum, and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Tivoli had been a popular summer residence since ancient Roman times due to its altitude, cooler temperatures and its proximity to the Villa Hadriana, the summer residence of the Emperor Hadrian I.

The Villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (1509-1572), second son of Alfonso I d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara and grandson of Pope Alexander VI, along with Lucrezia Borgia. d'Este commissioned a prominent classical scholar, Pirro Ligorio, who had studied the Villa Hadriana and other Roman sites the vicinity, to plan a new villa and garden which would exceed anything the Romans had built. He obtained an abundant supply of marble and statuary from the ruins of Hadrian's villa.

The construction began to slow in 1569, probably due to the financial difficulties of the Cardinal. He spent more and more of his time in the villa, reading and meeting with the leading poets, artists and philosophers of the Renaissance. In 1572, the Cardinal died in Rome, and was buried in a simple tomb in the church adjoining the Villa.

With the death of Ippolito in 1572, the villa and gardens passed to his nephew, Cardinal Luigi (1538-1586), who continued work on some of the unfinished fountains and gardens, but struggled with high maintenance costs. After his death in 1586 Cardinal Alessandro d'Este (1538-1624) carried out a major renovation of the gardens and water systems, as well as building a new system of fountains in the lower garden.

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Founded: Italian Renaissance (1550)
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Hafiza Khatun (10 months ago)
Wow what an amazing place. We took a day trip to Tivoli from Rome and visited the gardens of villa d'este. What an amazing place! Literally everywhere you turn is a picture-perfect postcard worthy shot. Would definitely recommend taking a trip to Tivoli when in Rome just to visit the villas.
Sahibzada Arshad (10 months ago)
It's one of the best place to visit for nature and history lovers. A beautiful and mesmerizing view from the villa, the fountains are super beautiful. My no 1 place to visit in Italy, highly recommend it. The almond trees were adding to the beauty of Tivoli and Villa d'Este. I am in love with Tivoli and its attractions.
Joshua F (10 months ago)
A very beautiful place to visit that usually is not too crowded. Wherever you look, you will see a picture opportunity. The house makes you think about how they powered that much water. To be honest, everything you see makes you wonder how they did that. Beautiful and necessary place to visit.
Elisha R (10 months ago)
I was lucky enough to be here on a day when I had the gardens practically to myself. My teens went their own way and I wandered around for hours admiring the beauty in the design of the gardens, the exquisite sculptures and the awe of the fountains and vista. Such a magical place, we all enjoyed it very much.
Marco Yammine (11 months ago)
Marvellous. Visited in winter and its still splendid in all its glory. Fountain galore. Great views of the hills of Rome. The translation of the map and descriptions left a bit to be desired. Great to go with kids. Our boys 8 and 10 absolutely loved it. Entrance is a little hard to find. Best ask the locals.
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