Villa d'Este

Tivoli, Italy

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


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Constance M (12 months ago)
This place is gorgeous! The gardens were the most impressive thing. Rooms inside the villa were cool, but once you've seen one, you've seen them all. I guess it's lost on me since I'm not the most appreciative of art. The gardens, however, we're beautiful and relaxing. There's a zillion fountains and water features and the deck views are very nice. Worth coming to Tivoli for.
Ronald (15 months ago)
Honestly my family and I just picked this tour not because we were interested in going but because we had a day without any activities while in Rome. We ended up booking it and the tour did not disappoint. Gardens were beautiful, landscape was impressive and just pure greenery all around that made picture taken very enjoyable. It was hot in the summer and you should carry a bottle of water especially since a lot of walking is involved.
Mayur Avinash Patil (16 months ago)
Villa has beautiful garden. Lot of fountains and various designs in fountains. I have never seen so many fountains at one place and in small area. Its perfect place away from Rome for spending wonderful day in gardens. You can buy tickets on the spot. There will be line but not much .. Waiting around 15-20 min.
Keith Kirkland (17 months ago)
We've been in Rome for 7 days now and this was hands down the most spectacular place we visited... It may not be the most historic... It's not as ancient as much of what you can see elsewhere, but the sheer beauty of it is something that has to be experienced to be understood. I could spend days in gardens like these.
Nirit Haviv (19 months ago)
A must-see UNESCO heritage site. It is highly recommended to spend at least 3 hours visiting the villa and gardens. The gardens are abundant with water, fountains, statues, ponds, flowers and lovely seating areas. The villa and gardens are spectacular and visiting them is a sheer pleasure. The level of preservation done at the place is exceptional. It can be reached in a 40-minute train ride from Trimini.
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