Description: the tour begins with a brief stop on the via Tiburtina at the quarry were the travertine marble for the construction of the Colosseum has been taken. Then we will reach Hadrian’s villa, where natural beauty, architectural creativity, art and history blend together in a magic place which has no equal in Europe.
The villa, composed of such an unbelievable variety of different kinds of buildings, many of which were inspired from famous Greek but also Egyptian monuments, that the emperor had visited during his numerous journeys through the empire, was sometimes thought to be an entire city. Constructed in the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. on an area twice the size of Pompeii and larger than Nero’s famous Domus Aurea, it represents a perfect view of the sensitivity of Hadrian and the artists of the period and has influenced many artists from the Renaissance onwards.
In fact the stripping of marble which already began during the Middle ages, led to the dispersion of so many decorative pieces of the villa, that nearly all of the major museums and collections in Rome and the rest of Italy, if not all of Europe, hold relics taken from Hadrian’s villa. There have been at least five hundred examples of statuary that were unearthed through the centuries in the various portions of the villa. Strolling from the huge arcades of the entrance through the Throne Room, the Greater Baths, the Vestibule, the Academy, the Palestra, the Greek Theatre, the Private Library, the Maritime Theatre and the famous Canopy - a valley with a canal surrounded by arcades and statues - you will learn about Hadrian, an intelligent sovereign and a lovers of arts, about Antinous, his favorite, about their tragic love story, about the evolution of the multiethnic empire that he had received from his predecessor Trajan, about the lifestyle of the the emperor and of the roman society at the highest point of its splendour.
Then it will be time to see Villa d’Este, one of the most beautiful palaces and gardens of Italy and perhaps of all Europe as well. The story of the villa begins in 1550 with a man named Ercole d’Este. His father was the duke of Ferrara but it was his mother who is really interesting, Lucrezia Borgia. She came from one of the most infamous families in the history of the Papacy and you will not miss any of the intriging stories of their lives. This villa is a perfect compliment to Hadrian’s villa because the architect Pirro Ligorio tried to emulate it when he designed Villa d’Este.
In fact while walking through the ruins of Hadrian’s villa we have to imagine the water running all over through the infinite series of fountains and pools, here, in a certain way, we can see it recreated with gardens and over 500 fountains. Water was in fact a major theme for the entire villa. An amazing show of wealth that belonged not to a king, pope, or duke but a cardinal, who had obviously high aspirations to become a pope. After a refreshing walk through the gardens and fountains of the villa we will have you taken back to your hotel where you can relax and think about the wonderful treasures that you have just seen and experienced.