Day trips from Rome aren’t a new concept – for almost as long as there has been a city here, people have been escaping it. Two thousand years ago Emperor Hadrian built his palatial playground in Tivoli and during the Renaissance, it became the vacation of choice for the Vatican’s foremost Cardinals. Discover what they saw in this picturesque hill town on our Half-Day Tivoli Tour from Rome, visiting two grand palaces from vastly different eras – one a magnificent ruin of marble statues, crumbling columns and abandoned lakes; the other a Renaissance masterpiece, as grand now as it ever was.
Our Tivoli Tour starts in the afternoon once the heat of the day has died off and you’ve finished with your morning activities. An air-conditioned bus will take us to Hadrian’s Villa and in less than an hour and we’ll be submersed in history, examining a model recreation of what the villa looked like almost 2,000 years ago. Marvel at the eclectic architecture designed by the Emperor himself and inspired by his travels as your expert English-speaking guide teaches you about one of the five ‘Good Emperors’ of Ancient Rome.
As your guide leads you outside and through the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa, you’ll learn that the fun is in the guesswork. With sites like the baths it’s easy to draw a solid conclusion, but what of the theatre with no space for an audience? Or the religious building dedicated to Antinous – the beautiful Greek boy Hadrian wept for – is it a tomb or a shrine? Join your tour guide in a team effort to rebuild this majestic 2nd century ruin from the ground up.
You’ll have earned a break at our second stop – the Villa d’Este. Once a convent, the villa was requisitioned by Vatican Cardinals during the Renaissance and revamped as their summer retreat. Your time here is free so after an introduction from your guide, choose to explore the frescoes and gilding inside or take a wander through the world-famous terraces and gardens of the palace. Perched on a hill overlooking the Roman countryside and its lakes, this is easily the region’s most photogenic spot so be sure to bring your camera.
As the day draws to a close we’ll hop back on our bus towards Rome. We’ll get you back to the city in time for dinner – a good thing too since all that oohing and ahhing builds up an appetite!
For more photos from Tivoli see our Flickr page.