Tivoli Gardens are the grounds surrounding Villa d'Este near the town of Tivoli in the province of Roma, Lazio. Along with the house they are listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and are classed as being one of the finest examples of an Italian Renaissance Garden.
Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este, son of Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonso I d'Este, had the vision for the palace and gardens and finally commissioned the building of Villa d'Este in 1550. He died in 1572 but by this time the complex was almost complete.
In order to create the gardens large areas of the town had to be demolished and massive programmes of earth moving took place due to the fact that the ground was sloping. This steep slope meant that the gardens had to be cleverly terraced and an ingenious water system was needed to feed not only the vegetation but also the extensive concentration of fountains, grottoes, waterfalls and other spectacular 'giochi d'acqua' (literally translates as 'water games'). The water is supplied by the River Aniene which originates in the Apennine mountains and flows past Tivoli before joining the River Tiber in Rome.
The gardens, which are an irregular shape, slope down from the Villa and stretch over two steep slopes down to a flat area at the bottom. They have been designed to make it look as though the villa is in the centre, although it acutally isn't, and a central axis has five transversal axes, each terminating at one of the main fountains.
Access through the gardens is made easy with a series of paths and steps, all winding between fountains, jets, fountains, nymphs, grottoes and flowing vases. In all there are five hundred different water spetacles, some of them even with music.
Once finished, Tivoli Gardens were much admired and copied widely throughout Europe, particularly in Italy, over the next two centuries.
The Tivoli Gardens are open every day except Monday from 8:30am to 6:30pm
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