After 2 days of ancient Rome, it was time to hit the countryside. Friends of ours had told us about a day trip to Tivoli to see the beautiful gardens of Villa D’Este and we decided to get the real local experience and use public transportation to get us there. Our handy Rick Steves’ guidebook gave some instructions for getting to Tivoli but it was our bus driver who was the key to our successful outing, who, when seeingus still sitting on the bus said, (in Italiano) “Hey tourists. This is your stop. It’s time to get off.”
The trip took about an hour to Tivoli, a delightful city perched on top of a hill with the villa commanding a good chunk of the hillside. We took a bus out of Rome to Tivoli, about an hour outside of the city to visit two places featuring water. The first stop was Villa D’Este, a 16th C villa built by XXX with fabulous gardens and hundreds of playful fountains. The architect capitalized on the natural springs to get the pressure just right for te various fountains, some powerful and impressive, others playful spots to hang out and enjoy the sculptures and spray. The views from the villa were pretty decent too…a vast Italian valley below, the location selected as a cool respite from the hot summers in Rome.
After the villa,Tim and I stopped at the local Tourist Information (TI) booth for directions to the bus to take us to Hadrian’s Villa, the Roman emperor’s summer resort featuring huge baths, ruins from the imperial palace and some really great water features as well. An impressive display of wealth and power which reminded us of our visits to Pompeii and Ostia Antica. We picnicked in the shadows of Philosopher’s Hall and the Library and imagined what life would be like to be one of the lucky ones to vacation here in the 2nd Century. My favorite spot at the villa was a huge outdoor banquet area with a long pond lined with greek statues on either side. It reminded me of Hearst’s Castle in California, just a little older and a tad more impressive.
We stayed about 2 hours at Hadrian’s Villa then made our way back to the main village to pick up our bus. The walk from the bus stop to the Villa was easy, but the return trip to find our bus stop on the main road was a bit of a challenge. Tim ended up stopping at a flower stand to ask where the bus stop was and I happened to be looking behind us down the road and noticed our bus coming down the street. I flagged the driver and we jumped on board. Teamwork at its best.