Hadrian’s Villa


Hadrian’s Villa near Tivoli (Rome) was built by Emperor Hadrian, starting from 117 A.D., as an imperial palace far away from the city of Rome. It is the most extensive ancient roman villa, covering an area of at least 80 hectares, more or less as Pompeii.

In 1999 Villa Hadriana was appointed one of the Human Heritage Monuments by Unesco; as many other archaeological sites it is very famous, but still very little known in its essence, notwithstanding more than 500 years of excavations. A more scientific and modern approach to its study is a recent novelty.

Starting from the XVII Century, Villa Hadriana was continuously excavated and explored, in search of treasures – mainly sculptures and mosaics – which enriched the private collections of Cardinals and Popes and, subsequently, of roman and european noblemen, especially the English.

At the end of the XIX century, Villa Hadriana finally became the property of the Italian kingdom, and thus begun new restorations and excavations.


Villa d’Este


It was commissioned by Cardinal Ipplito II d’Este, in 1550 the governor of Tivoli. The garden at Villa d’Este is of particular splendour and was designed by artist and architect Pirro Ligorio, and completed by Alberto Galvani.

The rooms of the Villa were decorated and completely finished while the Cardinal was on his deathbed (1572).

Beginning in 1605, Alessandro d’Este commissioned a phase of restoration: repairs in the garden and to the water installations, a new garden arrangement, and improvements to the fountains.

More renovations took place between 1660 and 1670, involving Gianlorenzo Bernini, while the 18th Century saw Villa d’Este in complete disrepair.

The Villa’s state worsened tremendously when it came into the hands of the House of Hapsburg, and continued to worsen until the mid-19th Century, when Cardinal Gustav von Hohelohe obtained a royal right to the Villa from the Dukes of Modena, with the obligation to enact the necessary restorations.

New works were begun to bring the Villa back from ruins; again it became an important cultural site and eventually began to host renowned men of culture.

With the start of the First World War, the Villa became the property of the Italian State, and from 1920-30, more restorations were executed, with a subsequent opening to the public.

The Villa was struck during the bombardments of 1944, and immediately after World War II, a radical restructuring was effected to repair the damages. Other restorations followed in later years, a significant one of which was the repristination of the Fontana dell’Organo and of the music it produces, “Canto degli Uccelli” or “Birdsong.”