Travel just 45 minutes from Rome to visit the luxurious country residence Hadrian's Villa, with its gorgeous array of imperial palaces, thermal baths, temples, theatres, and pools. Followed by a visit of Villa d'Este, home of Lucretia Borgia's son.» Learn more!
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For almost as long as there has been a city of Rome, people have been escaping it, hightailing to the mountains for a vacation from the Ancient City. Tivoli was always a favorite for the rich and well-connected. This is where Emperor Hadrian built his villa in the 2nd century and where the Renaissance Cardinals came to kick back – and we’re not going to let them have all the fun!
See how the other half lived when you join for a mini-break, a half-day tour to Tivoli visiting Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este – two grand palaces from vastly different eras; one a ruin of marble statues, crumbling columns and abandoned lakes; the other a Renaissance masterpiece, as grand now as it ever was.
The tour starts in the afternoon, once the heat of the day has died off. You will meet at a central location in Rome and take a comfortable, air-conditioned bus out of the city and into the mountains. In under an hour we’ll be at Hadrian’s Villa where our tour begins at a model recreation of what the villa looked like almost 2,000 years ago.
Marvel at the eclectic architecture so far ahead of its time and at the unbridled extravagance of Emperor Hadrian, one of the five Good Emperors. Hadrian was the Ancient Roman ruler responsible for the Pantheon, but whereas his designs there were classical and respectful, he let his imagination run wild in Tivoli. Incorporating ideas garnished from his adventures across Europe, he created a vacation home unmatched in its time, full of theatres, baths, temples, palaces and gardens.
As your guide leads you through the ruins here, you’ll learn that a lot of the fun is in the guesswork. With sites like the baths (whose steam vents are still evident) it’s easy to draw a solid conclusion, but what of the theatre with little room for guests? Or the religious building dedicated to Antinous, the beautiful Greek boy that 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.
Then it’s on to the second stop of the day, Villa d’Este. Once a convent, this villa was requisitioned by Vatican Cardinals during the indulgent years of the Renaissance in the 16th century, and fitted out as a worthy retreat. In fact the palatial villa remained a private residence for the kingpins of the Catholic Church all the way through to the 19th century.
After an introduction from your tour guide, you’ll be left to discover the amazing villa on your own. Of course you can opt to ogle the frescoes and gilding inside, but the main draw at the Villa d’Este are the terraces and incredible manicured gardens. Wander through the carefully preened shrubs and flowers, dip a hand into the many carved fountains, and admire the views from this perfectly positioned playground overlooking the Roman countryside. Don’t forget to pack a camera – this is easily the region’s most photogenic spot.
As the day draws to a close you will hop back on the bus towards Rome. You will get you back to the city in time for dinner – a good thing too since all that oohing and ahhing builds up an appetite!
What is included
What is not included
Meeting time and point
Meeting point is at Piazza Re di Roma, in the exact center-point of the square.
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