Today was a wet and rainy day. At 8:00am , Michele and Oliver decided to sit this one out, probably having flashbacks of Pompeii. So I caught the bus at 8:30 and headed to Tivoli, a town outside of Rome less than an hour. The most popular tourist sites in Tivoli are Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este.
Hadrian as you may recall gave us the famous Pantheon, among other great public works. Hadrian preferred to rule from this country estate rather than Rome. In addition to preferring it to the Palace on Capitoline hill, Hadrian, being of Spanish origin preferred to be close to Tivoli which had a strong Spanish community. As emperor, he was well traveled, and as a result he built the villa almost as a city of recreations of the greatest architectural hits he had encountered on his journeys. For this reason, the villa and its grounds have been a fertile ground for architects throughout history, including Piranese, Borromini, Le Corbusier, and Louis Kahn just to mention a few.
Even though it was rainy and cold, I found the complex extremely rich in its variety of typologies and portico networks linking these individual follies into a fairly systematic organization. Although these works are impressive, it takes a lot of imagination to fill in the missing pieces from what fragments remain. For this reasons, the images don’t make as much sense as actually being there and reconstructing it in your mind.
The model of the reconstruction at the entrance is quite helpful as well.
Villa d’Este is a few minutes up the hill form Hadrian’s Villa. It is a baroque villa and more importantly garden. It is named after Cardinal Ippolite II d’Este. After his failed bid for the papacy, he governed Tivoli and sought to impress by bringing the splendor of Rome to Tivoli.