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The villas of Tivoli, in the outskirts of Rome (#3).

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We’re already well aware of what’s in Rome, it’s one of the most frequently visited cities in the world. I wanted to know what was outside of Rome; places that folks don’t venture to as often; places that don’t have as many tourists.

After some research aka Google, I pinpointed Tivoli as the most appropriate day trip for my outdoor needs. On Saturday, October 18, two colleagues and myself headed toward the old Italian hilltop town 30 kilometers away from Rome.

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We took the metro, then the bus to Tivoli.

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Many thoughts ran through me during this commute. Rome isn’t a very clean city, and many its citizens do not have a high regard for urban upkeep. The subways, buildings, and busses were marked with graffiti. Street art can be impressive and become part of an acceptable part of a city’s culture, but the graffiti was generally half-assed and unimpressive. If you must vandalize, at least do it with some style.

Once we got out of the city though, my thoughts shifted to the historical significance of Greater Rome. The fields outside the city have been pillaged, irrigated, traversed, and conquered for thousands of years. We were looking at a place that was part of the Italian campaign of World War II; the Axis and Allies crossed these paths. That’s incredible.

And before you know it, we arrived at Tivoli and walked to our first destination: Villa d’Este.

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Villa d’Este is a UNESCO World Heritage site, glorious gardens from hundreds of years ago. The house (or mansion) stood above a valley of gardens. I walked through the house and acted as if I were sophisticated by looking at paintings and costumes I knew nothing of. In retrospect, I should have taken AP European History. You know nothing, Jon Snow.

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The real gem was outdoors.

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I’m admittedly showing pictures of statues, steppes, and gardens I know nothing of. It’s just incredibly beautiful is all, enough for us to walk at an extremely slow pace to absorb the ambiance.

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This long water system was what I saw on Google Images, which helped persuade me to come here.

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And the attention to detail for this particular section, of statues holding the earth, while other statues relax under the guise of the man-made waterfall. Italians know their architecture and gardens.

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Alas, we departed Villa d’Este on a high note and walked towards Villa Gregoriana.

I believe that, when traveling, the journey is equally as important as the destination. I usually plan to visit a few sites, but don’t care how I get there. In our case, we walked towards the general direction of the villa while course correcting based on things that caught our eye.

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Americans consider old buildings to be 20 or more years old. In comparison, some of these buildings must be hundreds of years old.

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These are peoples’ homes. They’re hang drying their clothing out in the open. Simply fascinating. Note the types of windows they have, this is the most common type of window in Rome.

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And let’s not forget the ever-so-small streets. Before I went to the Netherlands last year, this image was exactly what I imagined Europe to be: cobblestone roads, small alleyways, and Mark Walhberg pulling off a multi-million dollar heist in Mini Coopers in The Italian Job.

We finally reached Villa Gregoriana and unintentionally slipped in for free via the rear exit.

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Villa Gregoriana is a gorge that is built right next to the town. The water runs through town and comes out through waterfalls.

The hiking trails were simple enough, but this would have easily been the equivalent of a protected sanctuary in the States. The difference is, the Italians had lived here for hundreds of years, bathing in the waters and living around this oasis.

Pictures do not do this image justice. I had used panoramic vertically to capture this incredible view. It really looked like the Elven city Rivendell from The Lord of the Rings.

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Villa d’Este and Villa Gregoriana are really something else, and Tivoli is a nice quiet getaway from the inner-city chaos. I am definitely going to take my parents here one day.

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