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I consider it one of the best daytrips from Rome and one of the most scenic towns of the Italian countryside. Tivoli is a pleasurable town with many things to see. The city itself has many casual and unique charms such as lovely, cavernous restaurants, ancient streams and defined architecture.
The city is also the famed site of several private and public villas. These impressive estates go back to the times of imperial Rome as escapes of the elite to the surrounding countryside. Villa d’Este is probably the singular most sought out attraction in the city and rightfully so with its palaces, ornate gardens, opulent fountains and exquisite artwork.
The facility is a great spot for do it yourself tourists as well as groups and schools. If one gives at least five days advance notice of a trip there is a possibility of getting a professionally guided tour from the curators of the property itself. Otherwise there are regular tour guides and audio guides for on the spot information.
Logistically getting here is quite straightforward. One can take the highway in a direct route or for tourists buses and trains work best. There are several trains from Rome’s Tiburtina train station several times an hour. Also take the COTRAL bus from the Rome Metro Stop Ponte Mammolo to get to and from Tivoli. Hours change but it always opens at 8:30 and closes around sunset which can be 4pm or 7pm depending on the time of year. Some holidays and every Monday it is closed as well.
Tickets are normally 8 Euros and reduced student fares can be 4 Euros. The first steps into the villa are an exploration of the great palatial house which is full of splendid works of art both painted into the wall and ceilings and on canvas. Much of this is renaissance work, but there are many architectural displays going on too. The vast gardens are peeking out the windows with verdant displays of shrubs, mosses, flowers and trees.
Attractions include well-constructed fountains which run from aqueducts, bubbling brooks, well laid out ponds and large walls and embankments of carved stones. There are many fountains, as well as pipe organ fountain that plays every two hours based on the water pressure pushed through it. The gardens are wonderfully terraced which adds to their labyrinthine experience and actually allows for the creative use of the water pressure to power all the fountains.
There is a great gift shop on site, facilities to make use of as well as a place to buy snacks and supplies. The Villa is often the highlight of one’s trip to Tivoli because it is a living and active garden, it has a much more lively feel than the other gardens and villas which are older and more collections of ancient ruins. Villa d’Este is a combination of old and newer artwork and engineering which functions well and expressively.