Being close to the capital city of Italy, Rome, approximately 30 kilometers away, Tivoli is a popular destination for day trippers or tourists, who arrive by train, bus, or even sometimes, automobile. Most of these people are gone by nightfall, but, during the day, the city can turn into a mass of tourists, all there to see the same things — the most popular being the Villa d’Este, and its magnificent gardens. It won’t be difficult to find the villa, once you are in Tivoli. Simply, follow the crowds! Trust me — that is their main destination! The day trippers arrive in the morning, and then rush from one attraction to another, making for a slightly exhausting day! I recommend that you do yourself a favor, and opt to see the town in a more relaxed manner. Stay a few nights! Two nights in a local hotel, or B&B, would be sufficient, but to really appreciate the town, three nights would be preferred. Tivoli is home to three major parks/villas that one should not miss, when visiting the town. They are each large, and can take at least a few hours to see. Then, there is also the Centro Storico, which most tourists are not even aware of, and don’t take the time to explore. And that is simply a shame! So, we chose to visit one park per day, in the mornings, which then allowed us to have our afternoons free to relax, or simply to explore a bit the town itself.Access to the Villa d’Este is on Piazza Trento. Before heading into the villa, take the time to look around the lovely, small square. Next to the villa, you will find the Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore, also known to locals as the Chiesa di San Francesco. A statue of the saint stands outside, in the square.In the piazza, to the right of the entrance to the villa, you will find a sculpture by the famous Polish artist Igor Mitoraj.It is possible to purchase tickets for the villa online, but we chose to just buy our tickets at the ticket office, on the day of our visit. This was not a problem for us. There was no line to speak of — most tour groups already have their tickets. Plan your visit carefully, though, as the villa is closed on Mondays. Tickets cost €8.00 per person. Once you have purchased your ticket, you will walk through the “cortile porticato,” to a stairway that will lead you to the first floor (“primo piano”) of the villa. Many people opt not to visit the actual rooms of the palace, choosing instead to head directly outside to the gardens, but don’t make that mistake. The villa itself is beautiful, and the rooms deserve your attention and time. It is also a nice way to escape for a while from the crowds outside. We practically had the rooms to ourselves. The villa was built in 1550 by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, who was the son of Alphonso I, Duke of Ferrara, and Lucrezia Borgia, of the infamous Borgia Family. He is buried in the church next door to the villa. The architect, Pirro Ligorio, incorporated the monastery, from the Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore, into this building, adding decorations to the rooms, and turning the entire place into a lavish residence, worthy of a prince. Each room is adorned with incredible ceiling decorations, walls lined with frescoes by Livio Agresti, Cesare Nebbia, Girolamo Muziano, Durante Alberti, Matteo Neroni, and Federico Zuccari, as well as the sculptors, Giovan Battista della Porta, Pirrino del Galgiardo, Gillis van den Vliute, Giovanni Malanca, and Pierre de la Motte.
Next up: We head outside to explore the famous gardens of the Villa d’Este, and more of Tivoli!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from Tivoli, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!