Why you'll love this tour
Travel in style with an in-the-know local driver
If you’re looking to escape the buzzing crowds and traffic of Rome, Tivoli offers the perfect one-day escape to a haven of peace and beauty. The quaint hilltop town is home to some of Italy’s most striking gardens, giving you plenty of opportunity to unwind as you immerse yourself into the lush greenery. On this 6-hour excursion, we’ll visit both a fascinating archeological complex, which once was the private summer house of Emperor Hadrian himself, and a stunning Renaissance garden – both well-deserving of their UNESCO World Heritage status.
While located only 20 miles outside the city center, Tivoli can be a little trying to get to if you have to depend on the notoriously unreliable Roman public transportation. We suggest you save yourself the time and frustration and let us whisk you away in a deluxe air-conditioned van; with one of our cheerful drivers at the helm, you are guaranteed to have a relaxed and completely hassle-free experience! While your driver won’t wander the parks with you, he will provide you with fast-track tickets and lots of useful information so that you can explore the sights independently.
Meander the lush gardens of Villa d’Este
There are gardens… and then there is Villa d’Este! Created in the 1500s for Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, the entire residence is a stunning testimony of the lavishness in which previous Papal families indulged. While the opulent Villa itself is certainly worth a visit, the true stars of the show are the terraced gardens with their plentiful water features (255 waterfalls, 100 pools and 50 fountains to be exact!). Incredibly, the spectacular jets and waterfalls function solely by the force of gravity, without any pumps – a true masterwork by the Cardinal's 16th century hydraulic engineers!
We'll give you plenty of free time to wander d'Este's lush rural seat to your heart's content. Stroll the mosaic-covered walkways, breathe in the fresh hilltop air and revel in the magnificent views of the Roman countryside spreading out below (if it’s a clear day you can even spot the dome of St. Peter’s on the horizon!). By the time you've finished exploring the 30 acres of marvels, you’ll have probably worked up an appetite. Our local drivers have tons of insider advice up their sleeves and will be happy to recommend a few of our favorite ‘trattorias’, where you can perch up for an authentic Italian lunch before continuing to your next destination.
Explore the summer house of Emperor Hadrian
Similar to most emperors before him, Hadrian wasn’t a “less is more” type of guy – so, being his usual extravagant self, he went all in when designing his lavish summer getaway. In fact, his country estate ended up being not so much a villa as a 2nd century AD water-themed amusement park. Sprawling over the area of 10 football fields, the estate boasted palaces (yes plural!), temples, maritime theatres, arenas, bath-houses, pools, boating lakes – and even an artificial beach with under-sand heating!
While few of the ancient refinements are in evidence today, a stroll amongst the stunning ruins of Hadrian’s parkland offers a fascinating glimpse into the over-the-top lifestyle of antiquity’s rich and famous. After a day of discovering Rome’s most coveted villas, your chauffer will escort you straight back to your hotel doorstep, so you can kick your feet up and get some well-deserved rest!
What you'll experience
The villa was built in the 16th century for Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, who had just been appointed governor and papal delegate in Tivoli by Pope Julius III. Upon his arrival in the hilltop village, the Cardinal quickly found out that he had assigned an ancient Benedictine monastery as his residence. D’Este, who was accustomed to dwelling in elegant palaces, found it difficult to adjust to his new modest living quarters and soon decided to transform the convent into a magnificent villa. He employed some of the most famous Renaissance artists to build a house and surrounding gardens worthy of a cardinal.