The famous Fountains and Gardens of Italy’s Villa d’Este made it a World Heritage Site
The legendary Renaissance gardens of the Villa d’Este are arguably the most important in Italy, and inspired many other gardens all over Europe. The great fountains are particularly striking, and Helen sets the scene for you in front of the most magnificent, the Fountain of Neptune.
“Hi, we’re now in Villa D’Este (Gardens) in Tivoli. It is about 30 km outside of Rome. This is the largest and most important garden in Italy and it’s just full of fountains – there are over 200 fountains with 500 jets. And we just came in from the palace up there and walked down a little Avenue of a Hundred Fountains (Le Cento Fontane) and that was beautiful. Down the side there was water flowing down and lots of statues and all that.
Don’t miss the Fountain of Neptune and the Water Organ Fountain
“And then coming down here, that is one of the biggest fountains over there, the Fountain of Neptune. And, look at it, it’s really impressive. Behind that there’s another beautiful fountain (Water Organ Fountain) and at 12:30 the hydraulic organ is going to go off. It only plays every two hours so that’s where we’ll be heading to quite quickly.
Built by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este in the 16th Century
“But, this place was built by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, or something like that in the 16th century. He was going to be Governor of Tivoli and he needed a place to live that was suitable for his position. So, he built this huge place, look at it, it’s magnificent. This beautiful garden is a nice place to just have a relaxing time and we’re just going to be heading in that direction to check out that other fountain, so I’m off now. I’ll see you later. Bye.”
Villa D’Este – A Consolation Prize
Villa D’Este was the vision of Cardinal Ippolito II D’Este who was appointed Governor of Tivoli by Pope Julius III, as a consolation for losing the papal race to him. The Governor had intended to used the residence for diplomatic and lavish receptions and hence the grand scale of Villa D’Este. The villa took twenty years to build and I don’t think the Governor got to use it much as intended as he died just when it was nearing completion.
Magnificent 16th century Garden of Water Fountains
The villa is renowned for its frescoes, but it is more famous for the magnificent 16th century garden of water fountains. As you walk around the garden there are 17 main fountains to admire: Pegasus fountain, Water Organ fountain, Neptune fountain, Cypress Rotunda, Goddess of Nature fountain, Mete fountains, Ariadne fountain, the Fish Ponds, Dragon fountain, Bollori Steps, Owl fountain, Proserpina fountain, Rometta fountain, One Hundred Fountains Avenue, Oval fountain, Great Chalice fountain, and Diana’s Grotto.
A Great Place to Escape to
The Villa D’Este garden is a great place to escape to if you want a break from visiting duomos and monuments. We only had a short break here and the four fountains that we particularly liked were:
- the Rometta fountain, on the left of the villa. You’ll recognize it by the large boat in the fountain. The Rometta fountain contains many miniature features and symbols that were meant to represent Ancient Rome. The boat on the canal represents the Tiber Island and the she-wolf is suckling the twins Romulus and Remus, associated with Rome’s foundation myth.
- walk down the One Hundred Fountains Avenue where water spurts from fountain heads in all kinds of shapes such as eagles, obelisks, lilies, sailing boats and more
- the huge Neptune fountain is a 20th century transformation of the Bernini waterfall which was irreparably damaged after two centuries of neglect.
- the Water Organ fountain – the hydraulic organ plays daily every two hours from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm.