Tivoli, Italy Tourist Attractions
Situation and historyThe town of Tivoli, the ancient Tibur, lies 30km/19mi east of Rome in the Sabine Hills, magnificently situated on a limestone ridge extending south from Monte Gennaro (1,271m/4,194ft; cableway), above the ravine carved by the River Aniene. In Roman Imperial times it was a favorite resort of the great Roman nobles, including Maecenas and the Emperor Augustus himself.
At the Porta Santa Croce, the southwest entrance to Tivoli, is the spacious Largo Garibaldi. A short way north of this, in the little Piazza Trento, is the entrance to the Villa d'Este (son et lumieåre shows in summer), one of the classic creations of the Renaissance period, designed by Pirro Ligorio for Cardinal Ippolito d'Este (1549). It was owned by Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Este, who was assassinated at Sarajevo in 1914. From the villa and from the beautiful gardens, laid out in terraces with magnificent fountains and cascades and what are said to be the tallest cypresses in Italy, there are attractive views of the Roman Campagna.
Cathedral of San Lorenzo
In the north of Tivoli stands the cathedral of San Lorenzo, originally Romanesque but rebuilt in 1635. In the side chapels are the remarkable group "Descent from the Cross" (13th century) and a triptych depicting the Savior between the Virgin and St John (12th century).
Temple of Vesta
Going east from the cathedral in Tivoli along Via San Valerio to the Piazza Rivarola and turning left along the Via della Sibilla, we come to the Temple of Vesta (Tempio di Vesta), a circular structure with Corinthian columns (second century B.C.) which stands on a crag in the grounds of a hotel. Close by is the so-called Temple of Sibyl (Tempio di Sibilla) and also the exit from the park of the Villa Gregoriana.
To the east of Piazza Rivarola the Ponte Gregoriana spans the gorge of the Aniene, and beyond the bridge is the main entrance to the park of the Villa Gregoriana. The waters of this river are diverted through the Traforo Gregoriano, a double tunnel (270m/297yd and 300m/330yd long) driven through the west side of Monte Catillo in 1826-35 to prevent the floods which had repeatedly devastated the town. The water emerging from the tunnel forms magnificent waterfalls with a total drop of 160m/528ft (volume reduced at night to supply a power station). At the end of the tunnels is the Grande Cascata (108m/356ft), of which there are fine views from the upper and middle terraces. Also in the park are the Sirens' Grotto and, at the end of a gallery, the Grotto of Neptune, through which the main channel of the Aniene formerly flowed. From the entrance to the gallery a path zigzags up to the exit near the two temples.
Via delle Cascatelle
From the entrance to the Villa Gregoriana the Via Quintilio Varo runs around the outside of the park and then along the right bank of the Aniene, past an arch in honor of the Virgin erected in 1955, to the Via delle Cascatelle, which affords beautiful views of the waterfalls and the town, particularly from the Belvedere lookout terrace and the church of Sant'Antonio.
Fountain of the Naiads
The Fountain of the Naiads in the Piazza della Repubblica - also known as the Piazza dell'Esedre since it is laid out on the site of the exedra of the Baths - was erected between 1885 and 1914. It consists of four groups of female figures playing with marine animals, with a figure of "Man Victorious over the Hostile Forces of Nature" in the middle.
Villa of Hadrian
Southwest of Tivoli, to the right of the Via Tiburtina, is the Villa of Hadrian (Villa Adriana), a magnificent complex of buildings and gardens covering an area of 0.75 sq.km/.33 sq.mi. It dates from the later years of the widely traveled emperor (d. A.D. 138), who sought to reproduce here some of the great buildings of Greece and Egypt. Near the houses temples, a library and a museum were erected. Many of the works of art to be seen in the museums of Rome came from here. The chief charm of the villa lies in its scenic beauty. There is a model of the whole complex in a building at the car park. Since 1870 the area has been progressively excavated. Many of the art treasures discovered are on display in museums in Rome. The Imperial Palace lies in the north of the park, adjoining a library courtyard with some interesting mosaics. Also to be seen are a pillared courtyard, baths, a nymphaeum and a museum.