One of the most beautiful villas in Italy is certainly Villa D’Este. The Italian garden of Villa D’Este is included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. There are more than 500 fountains, incredible statuary and beautiful flowers.
The gardens were first created by Cardinal Ippolito II D’Este in the 1500’s after the disappointment of his failed bid for the papacy. His vision was to bring back the grandeur of Rome, Fontainebleau, and nearby Villa Adriana. Tivoli, Villa D’Este and Villa Adriana are a short ride from Rome and can make a wonderful day trip.
Statuary abounds in the gardens of Villa D’Este. There are also fish ponds, paths going in all directions, and always statues – everywhere.
The entrance plaque on the wall as you approach the Villa. Cardinal Ippolito D’Este was the son of Lucrezia Borgia and the grandson of Pope Alexander VI. The cardinal wanted a villa and garden worthy of “one of the wealthiest ecclesiastics of the sixteenth century”
Inside the Villa you will find many incredibly painted rooms, like the picture above. It was formerly a Benedictine cloister.
Looking from inside the Villa out into the garden below: It is a sprawling Italian garden with beautiful cypress trees, shrubbery and flowers. The garden seems to fall away from the villa and is carved out of the sheer rock face that the villa sits on.
The Hundred Fountains, as seen above, is a wall of water. It is a tree-lined path with the 100 fountains leading from the Oval Fountain to the Fountain of Rome, known as “Rometta”. The Hundred Fountains are structured on three levels. These levels represent the waters of three “rivers” – the Albuneo, Aniene, Ercolaneo. The Hundred Fountains have the many shapes, including that of lilies, eagles, obelisks, and small boats. Water emanates from all these fixtures, forming a natural wall.
In April, these purple blossoms were just starting to peek out through the trellis. The gardens were designed as a living museum of the classical beauty that represented ancient Rome.
The Neptune fountain, close view. Behind and above it, the Water Organ Fountain.
The top photo is looking through the fountain at the Water Organ and the lower picture is a close-up of the Water Organ Fountain. Claude Venard, a Burgundian and a highly regarded manufacturer of hydraulic organs, worked on this incredible work of art. It’s said that the hydraulic-pneumatic technology that made this water-and-air-powered musical fountain possible in the 16th century actually dates back to 1st-century Alexandria.
One of the most famous fountains at Villa D’Este is the The Fontana dei Dragoni (The Dragons Fountain). This fountain was created in 1572 for the visit to Villa D’Este by Pope Gregory XIII, whose coat of arms features a dragon. The fountain is set between two steep staircases and pools in the shapes of dolphins and sea shells. The water gushes from the mouths of the four dragons.
The Rometta Fountain reproduces allusive key-parts of the Eternal City. You’ll see the she-wolf with the twins and Rome is represented by a statue with armor, helmet and lance. There is also a boat that represents Tiberina island.
Villa D’Este is a wonderful site to visit – especially in the Spring as all the flowers start to bloom. In the summer, it is a cooling, welcoming garden that helps offset the summer heat.For many more of our pictures of the Villa D’Este, head to the Villa D’Este and Tivoli Pinterest board. Customized day trips from Rome are available and include a private driver/driving guide and round-trip, private, door-to-door transportation.
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