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Villa d’Este – a gardening work of art

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Continues our trip through the hidden treasures that only Italy has in store for us.

Abandoned villages, castles, gardens and villas, the kind of wonder we want to disclose to you in this blog post. Here we are in Lazio region, Tivoli more precisely, where besides the Magnificent Hadrian’s Villa, we can find also this spectacular masterpiece of Italian Garden, the one of a kind Villa d’Este. This gardening work of art is enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage Sites and with its striking collection of fountains, nymphs, grottoes, plays of water and music, represents an important model emulated several times in prestigious European Baroque and Mannerism gardens and a fine example of Renaissance architecture.

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One of the greatest 17th century villas

This very ancient villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, who From 1550 until his death in 1572, created a palatial setting surrounded by a spectacular terraced garden in the which took advantage of the dramatic slope but required innovations in bringing a sufficient water supply, which was employed in cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets and fountains, water games. The result is one of the greatest 17th century villas with water-play structures in the hills surrounding the Roman countryside. Their garden planning and their water features were imitated in the next two centuries from Portugal to Poland.

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This splendid fantasy garden few kilometers from the bustling Eternal City, offers to visitors also other amazing features, such as the frescoes that make the ceiling of the villa a delight for eyes.

The villa’s rooms are a striking view too. The central main entrance leads to the Appartamento Vecchio made for Ippolito d’Este, with its vaulted ceilings frescoed centered on the grand Sala, with its spectacular view down the main axis of the gardens, which fall away in a series of terraces. To the left and right are suites of rooms, containing Cardinal Ippolito’s library and his bedchamber with the chapel beyond, and the private stairs to the lower apartment. The villa itself is surrounded on three sides by a sixteenth-century courtyard, with the garden laid out on a central axis with subsidiary cross-axes, refreshed by some five hundred jets in fountains, pools and water troughs, which water is supplied by Aniene river.

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A peculiarity of Villa d’Este are its terraces set on different level and linked by fine stairs and passages

The uppermost one ends in a balustraded balcony with a sweeping view over the plain below, where you can spot the Grotto of Diana, richly decorated with frescoes and pebble mosaic and the central shell-like Fountain of the Great Cup, planned by Bernini in 1660. But the beauties and attractions of the Villa are countless. We can’t not mention The Hundred Fountains, the artistic Rometta fountain or The Fontana dell’Ovato, marvellous cascades springing from a egg-shaped basin into a pool set against a rustic nymphaeum. We won’t indulge ourselves in further detailed description because you have to visit this work of art of landscape design to catch its magic atmosphere.

Drone aerial view of Villa d’Este

The Villa immersed in the green is open also at night during summer, with night visits that offer an unparalleled show for senses.

Book a Villa d’Este visit to live a real daydream!

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