Monday, December 04, 2006

October 2006 - Tivoli, Italy

We started the week with a day trip to Tivoli, a hilltown about 20 miles east of Rome. We first visited Villa Adriana, a large Roman villa built by the emperor Hadrian in the early Second Century AD. The villa was a sumptuous complex of over 30 buildings, covering an area of at least 250 acres, of which much is still unexcavated. The villa was Hadrian's preferred residence when he was in Rome. His choice of an imperial palace outside Rome, instead one of the several palaces in Rome, was probably influenced by the miserable relations he had with the senate and the local Roman aristocracy. Hadrian was born in Spain, just like his predecessor Trajan, and the Senate and the aristocracy had trouble coming to terms with another provincial on the imperial throne. Hadrian's Villa included extensive baths to accomodate the hundreds of people that lived in or visited the villa. Behind us (above) are the ruins of the baths built for the aristocratic men. There were also separate bath facilities for the aristocratic women and the hundreds of staff members that worked the villa. Each of the baths included a frigidarium (cold bath), a tepidarium (warm bath), a caldarium (hot bath), wading pools, changing rooms, and a sun-heated room, which gave the baths their name - the Heliocaminus Baths. The vast amounts of water required to operate these baths came from the two streams that surround the hill on which the villa was built. The hills behind Tivoli provided water for four of the aqueducts that supplied Rome.
Here's a shot of the main wading pool of the men's baths with two umbrella pine trees and the Appenine Mountains in the background.

In addition to its proximity to water, the site was chosen for its closeness to the materials required to build the villa and many structures scattered throughout the complex. Tivoli was (and still is) famous for the travertine quarries, but there were also ample supplies of tufa and of pozzolana and lime for the production of cement.

Most of the structures in the villa, like this one, were made of tufa - volcanic rock that is plentiful in this region of Italy.

In addition to the extensive baths, the villa complex included a traditionally structured villa, including the main residential section of the palace, gardens with an elongated fountain and a view towards the valley, Greek and Latin libraries, wide terraces and courtyards, a grand court with a portico and richly adorned rooms, the so-called Golden Court named for the riches found there, the Hospitalia or guest houses, the Terrace of Tempe with a vantage point on the lower valley, the Pavilion of Tempe, a portico with a round Temple of Venus, a secluded private residence called the Maritime Theatre, a Greek theatre, a large audience hall called the Hall of Philosophers, and the barracks of the guard.

Here's a sepia shot of the ruined Maritime Theatre, which, rather than being a true theatre, consisted of a colonnade surrounding a small lake with a central island on which a small private residence stood.

Here's another shot of the central island of the Maritime Theatre with a great umbrella pine tree in the background.

This very long pool is not part of the baths but, rather, was used for entertaining the emperor's guests to the villa. Originally, it was completely surrounded by marble statues of Roman gods with extensive fountains at one end and a collonade at the other. The emperor and his guests would lounge and dine on beds between and among the lively fountains, and wait for their food and libations to be delivered to them on small boats launched from the far end of the pool. Here's Casandra in front of the pool, facing the fountains adjacent to which the emperor and his guests would lounge. Here's another shot of that pool from the fountain end, showing the amazing umbrella pines that surround it.

Here's a closer shot of the far end of the pool and the ruins of the marble statues and collonade.

After visiting Hadrian's Villa, we hopped on a bus to the center of Tivoli for a tour of Villa d'Este, a masterpiece Italian villa and gardens built by a Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este after the disappointment of a failed bid for the papacy.
Like every other home of a powerful church figure that we've visited, this Villa is extremely decadent inside. Most of the rooms, like this one, are covered with colorful marbles, gold, and priceless paintings, frescoes and tapestries.

Its impressive concentration of fountains, nymphs, grottoes, plays of water, and music have served as a much-copied model for European gardens in the mannerist and baroque styles. Above is a shot looking up at palace on top of the hill from the Fountain of the Dragons, the first of many impressive fountains that you see as you descend into the extensive gardens.
Here's a close-up of one of the Dragons.

Here's a shot from the Villa's original entrance looking through the gardens up to the palace on top of the hill.

Here' a shot of Casandra on the main terrace, looking down at the Villa's lush gardens.

And here' s Casandra on the main terrace with the waterspout of the Fountain of the Dragons behind her and the Fountain of Neptune in the distance.
And here's a picture of us in front of the Oval Fountain, unfortunately most of this impressive fountain was cut off. You'll notice that our self-taken photos improve significantly over time.
Here' a view of the entire Oval Fountain from one of the garden terraces higher up on the hill.

Here are two pictures of the Villa's most famouns fountains: The Hundred Fountains, which actually contain far more fountains than the name suggests.

On one end of the Avenue of the Hundred Fountains is the intricate Fountain of Rometta, which represents Rome. The boat-like structure with the obelisk in the middle represents Isla Tiberina (Tiber Island), the island in the middle of the Tiber River in Rome in between Trastevere to the south (where we live) and the Jewish Ghetto to the north. On the other end of the Avenue of the Hundred Fountains is a massive fountain that represents Tivoli, a rival city to Rome during the Renaissance.

Here's the famous "Organ Fountain", which actually plays a song every hour after it's fountain reservoir collects enough water and builds up sufficient pressure to blow air through the organ pipes and play the song.

Here's the Fountain of Pegasus, which sits on the terrace above the Organ Fountain. That blue sky in the picture is not "photo-shopped" - the sky in this region of Italy is really that color almost every day!

Kenny was rather impressed with the Fountain of Diana of Ephesus. Look closely and you'll see why.

Here's the Fountain of the Owl. There's an owl between the twisting columns that's too small to see in this picture.
Here's a view from the top of the show-stopping Fountain of Neptune, looking down at the three massive fishponds.

Here's the same shot in sepia.

Here's the Fountain of Neptune from one of the Villa's terraces overlooking the gardens.

And here's a direct view of the Fountain of Neptune and the Organ Fountain on the terrace above it.

Finally, here's a shot looking over the fishponds towards the Fountain of Neptune and the Organ Fountain.

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