Best sites Information of Tivoli and Surrounding
Sightseeing tour of Tivoli Half-day or full-day private guided tour to Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli, Rome, to visit the ancient ruins of the largest imperial villa.
(51.000 inhabitants), is situated along the Aniene river near the Great Waterfall on the western slopes of the Monti Tiburtini (not very high hills to the east of Rome).
The richness of the waters favoured, over the centuries, the construction of large architectural complexes.
The most remarkable examples are constituted by: Villa Adriana dating from the Roman times, the XVI century Villa d’Este, Villa Gregoriana built in the XIX century in the chasm of the Aniene Valley just underneath the Roman Acropolis.
The thermal springs of sulphurous water have Great importance. They have been used for therapeutically purposes since ancient times. Urban development has lightly changed the old Roman buildings. Several alterations took place especially during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the XIX century; while more radical changes took place after the Second World War because of the massive destruction.
Tradition relates that the origins of Tivoli date from 1215 B.C. and correspond to the founding of the Latin village (Tibur) which probably stood on the site of the acropolis. Rome soon had great inf1uence on Tivoli (380 B.C) to which it was directly linked by Via Tiburtina. The most ancient buildings which can still be seen today, dating from the IV century B.C., are the square-based defensive walls which surrounded the acropolis and the ancient district of S.Paul. During the II century B.C. the town underwent a radical renewal which affected all the most important urban sectors. Some imposing public buildings were built such as the Sanctuary of Hercules the Victor, the Divine Protector of Tivoli. Such an archaeological site is a monumental building about 300 mts. out of the town -walls, located in part on the old via Tiburtina. Il was erected in the middle of the second century B.C. until the Augustan Age and, for its construction, a public street under the Sanctuary platform was created, making a long covered street: via Tecta (today called: Galleria di Porta Scura), which got its light from several above openings.
At its origin, the Sanctuary used to occupy a 3.000 sq. mI. area; it was extremely large; it was rectangular in shape (188xI40mts.).
At the end of the year 400, a monastery was placed on the ruins of the temple and afterwards, at the end of the year 700, a group of factories and paper-mills were constructed.
There paper-mills were planned when, in 1884, the Società delle Forze Idrauliche, had obtained the whole monumental building because it was a great source of water from the Aniene river. In 1887, this Company started a collaboration with the Società Anglo-Romana in order to furnish Rome with electricity.
Subsequently, the Cartiera Mecenate was installed in one part of the building until the 50s, when the State acquired the entire complex. The Temple was covered with two big concrete tubs, which are still visible only on the long sides of the inferior podium. In axis with the temple there was a theatre provided with a stage and a portico (porch) in the back. Beyond the theatre, there was a large colonnade square; the entire structure was put on very strong supports. Today, the Sanctuary is undergoing an archaeological excavation and restoration. Another important site is the Tempio della Tosse, along the old via Tiburtina, today it is called: via degli Orti.
In the same period the Forum was built in the same place where Piazza del Duomo stands today. One can still see the Augusteum, the Mensa Ponderaria (the Weights and Measures office) and the traces of a basilica standing behind the aside of the cathedral. The two most famous temples of Tivoli were erected on the acropolis. The rectangular one is called the Temple of the Sybil; the round one is known as the Temple of Vesta. During the Middle Ages they were converted into churches. While near Rocca Pia stands the Roman Amphitheatre
(known as the amphitheatre of Bleso).
After the fall of the Roman Empire the Roman town was replaced by the medieval town through several interventions of urban restructuring: The replacement of the forum with the Cathedral of St. Lawrence is a good example.
Tivoli maintained a very good position of political autonomy up to the early Middle Ages. It was a period in which the largest suburban villas dating from the Roman age fell to ruin. The town regained its former splendour with Frederick Barbarossa: new city walls were erected (55) and the urban area was remarkably widened. Between the XI and the XII century many turret-houses were built inside the urban area. These very high, quadrangular constructions, were used both as dwellings and as defence. They were placed in the strategic points of the town. Some beautiful examples can stili be admired today in Vicolo dei Ferri, Via Postera, Via del Seminario and Via del Colle. The Arengo Palace, the Town-Hall Tower and the Church of St. Michael date back approximately from the same period.
They were the centre of civil, municipal and religious life in Piazza Palatina and Piazza delle Erbe since they were situated exactly in the heart of the town.
Later, Tivoli was divided into 4 districts: Castrovetere, St. Paul, St. Croce and Trevio. In 1461 Pope Pius II began to erect Rocca Pia in order to subdue the town to papal power. This imposing quadrilateral fortress is composed of four round corner-towers.
Villa D’Este, the splendid villa designed by Pirro Ligorio, was built when Cardinal Hippolyte d’Este was appointed Life Governor, in 1550. A remarkable urban development occurred afterwards and many valuable patrician palaces were constructed (Palazzo CenciAlberici, Bellini, PusterIa in Via Trevio and Palazzo Mancini, Pacifici in Via Maggiore, the present day Via Domenico Giuliani). In the late XVI century the new Town-Hall was built on part of the Roman walls and incorporated some medieval structures (the guard tower which can still be seen on the left side)The building was at first used as a convent and then, restored in the XIX century.
The Cathedral of St. Lawrence (1635-40) and the Church of the Jesus, the town’ s two most significant churches, were erected during the Baroque period.The former took the place of the ancient medieval construction (the beautiful Romanesque bell tower still remains as an example). The latter disappeared after an aerial bombing in May 1944.
In 1826 a catastrophic flood of the Aniene river seriously damaged the residential area in Tivoli. In order to solve this problem it was necessary to divert the course of the river: Two tunnels were dug under Mount Catillus following the project of the architect Clemente Folchi. The waters of the river, directed to flow into the tunnels, formed the Great Waterfall which cascades down a hundred-metre drop into Villa Gregoriana. During the same period Piazza Rivarola was restored and Ponte Gregoriano built. Ponte Gregoriano was named after the Pope who ordered the river to be diverted.
In 1550 Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, son of Lucretia Borgia and Alfonso d’Este, built Villa d’Este following the project of Pirro Ligorio. The Villa is reputed to stand on the site of an ancient medieval district called “Valle Gaudente”.
The magnificent fountains are fed by the waters of the Aniene through a series of pipes which pass under the historical centre. The courtyard which corresponds to the present entrance of the Villa was the cloister of a Benedictine convent incorporated in the monumental building of the Villa. The Italian style gardens with their beautiful fountains are a splendid example of the art and architecture of the Renaissance. Some of the most famous fountains are: the Fountain of the Bicchierone (Large Class), the One Hundred Fountains, the Fountain of the Ovato, the Fountain of the Dragons and the Fountain of the Hydraulic Organ (where a perfectly functioning organ was placed).
It is also known as the “Villa of Manlio Vopisco” who was the owner of the villa destroyed during the Roman age. Its rare beauty is due to the naturalistic aspects which exalt the presence of the waters of the Aniene river.
One can admire: the Great Waterfall (more than 100 mts. high) impetuously coming out from the artificial tunnels dug in 1826 after the catastrophic flood of the river; the caves of Neptune and of the Sirens where the river itself disappears under the rocks and reappears downstream. The charm of these natural places and the characteristic ecosystem make Villa Gregoriana a unique place in the world.
Located on a plane at the foot of Tivoli, it is considered, for the magnificence of its architecture, one of the most important sites of ancient Rome. The Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of the Villa and supervised the work personally (118-138 D. C.). The construction was carried out in several successive phases; the first one concerned the restoration of an ancient Republican villa.
Hadrian’s Villa consists of a group of monumental buildings, roads, water ponds, libraries, theatres and temples which some people considered to be the reproduction of similar buildings and monuments that the Emperor visited during his travels.
A town that extends on an area about 300 acres. Among the most important buildings, there are: the Pecile, the one hundred Camerelle, the Ninfea, the small and the big thermal baths (Terme), the Canapa, the Palazzo Imperiale with the Piazza d’ Oro , the Teatro Marittimo, etc …