Thursday 9th July
Another sweltering day in Paradise in the eternal city found us on a bus tour to the beautiful village of Tivoli and investigating the ruins of the Emperor Hadrian’s Villa from early in the C2nd AD and the magnificent house and gardens of the Villa D’Este, a C16th villa handed to Ippolito Este as second prize for missing out on being elected Pope. Ippolito accepted the offer and not only created one of the world’s outstanding gardens with 28 gravity fed fountains but also had his four storey villa decorated with Mannerist frescoes of Biblical, classical and current political themes in a quite unique style. Ippolito saved Tivoli from flood by spending thousands re-creating the town’s water system and the frescoes in his house have a distinct water/Noah/Moses theme.
The Emperor Hadrian was also a far-sighted man who ruled after Trajan and between them they created a golden era of Roman peace and stability after the political entanglements of the Claudian and Flavian dynasties in the C1st. Hadrian created his villa of peace just a half day’s horse ride from Rome on a hill in Tivoli with breathtaking views. He walled the villa, provided two amazing pools which still remain, scores of olive trees, a private garden house for himself, palaces for his many guests and court and very comfortable if small apartments for all his servants and attendants. All is now in ruins with the marble and frescoes long gone and re-used elsewhere but the sense of immense power and potential beauty is everywhere in evidence.
Three days in a row of stifling heat in tourist crowds, on hugely crowded underground trains and in bustling streets has tested our energy levels and it is a joy to retreat to our hotel haven in Marconi where all is cool and quiet. Ann’s injured leg has stood up to some difficult tests (including well over 250 steps in the Villa D’Este garden today and more tramping around Hadrian’s villa. Richard has been consuming far too much Italian red wine and excellent home made pasta as can be seen by the photo attached. Tomorrow a potentially stressful day in Naples awaits!