Monday, November 10, 2008

Villa D'Este and Villa Adriano

Two days ago we took a trip to Tivoli, just outside Rome to visit two of the famous villas there. The first one we stopped at, the Villa D'Este, dates from the late 16th century. It is a spectacular site complete with an enormous Renaissance garden and fountains.

This is the painted ceramic tile entry sign that one sees upon entering the Villa.

Some of the rooms themselves. This particular one had representations of all the major trades of the town of Tivoli. In this picture you can see carpenters and stonemasons. Local tradesmen posed for all the paintings.

A room commissioned to look like one of the rooms in a Pompeiian villa.

A painting in another room showing King Tiberinus Silvius (a direct ancestor of Romulus and Remus and direct descendant of Aeneas) drowning in the river which was named after him, the Tiber.

Another painting depicting Noah offering a sacrifice after the floor. The Ark rests on Mount Ararat in the background and the D'Este eagle spreads its wings in the foreground.

After looking at the inside of the Villa we made out way to the gardens. Andrew and Augustin had fun checking out the inside of this tree.

We had our plan to see the gardens postponed for a short while as we examined the library and printing exhibit that had been set up. Tivoli has a long heritage of manuscripts dating back to the time when wealthy Romans retired here to their Villas during the Summer to engage in cultural pasttimes such as reading and studying. Hadrian had a library here, but as the Roman Empire declined much of it was lost. The Cardinal of the Villa D'Este made it a point to found another library, and purchased as many priceless manuscripts as possible. From thence on, Tivoli became an important site of printing and bookbinding in Italy, aided by the Benedictine Scriptorium at the basilica of Saint Mary Major in nearby Rome. This is an early printing press. You can see a roller used to spread ink resting on it as well.

A well-preserved papyrus scroll, written in Latin.

This is an ancient Roman writing board. The face was covered in wax and the stylus was used to isncribe messages.

Roman post office system. Papyrus scross sealed with clay seals.

This was an interesting exhibit on how payprus is made. The fibers can be seen soaking in water, and are then pounded into "paper".

We then returned to the garden. Set upon a hill side, it consists of hundreds of fountains which are fed by the Aniene river as it rushes downhill. This particular fountain has a working pipe organ inside. Hydraulic-pneumatic technology produces air which feeds the pipes, resulting in an organ that is powered solely by the flow of water rushing downhill.

Andrew perched on the ballustrade with the garden below.

The amount of water coming down from the Organ fountain.....

The D'Este coat of arms made out of ceramic and stone.

The more-than-350 ft-long stretch of fountains (100) in all.

A statue of the she-wolf of Rome feeding Romulus and Remus.

The river god Aniene.

This fountain was meant to be a miniature representation of the city of Rome. Although it has aged, it is still quite nice.

I think it would be hard for the curators to find out if the pipes ever burst. There was water spraying everywhere! A fan-shaped spray set in some greenery.

The fountain of the four dragons.

This is the building from which much of the inspiration for the Villa D'Este was taken. It is the Emperor Hadrian's enormous complex built in the 2nd century AD as a retreat for the Emperor from the rigors of daily life in Rome. After he died, it was used by his successors, and eventually fell into disrepair. Many priceless works of art have been found here and now appear in museums such as the Capitoline, the Louvre, and the Vatican. This particular part was his study. It is here that he withdrew to write, think, and discuss matters, and is here where he likely wrote his famous Memoirs. It is set in the middle of an artificial pond.

These were guest houses reserved for visiting personages.

A look at the elaborate mosaic floors inside each guest room.

This was the only part of the colored marble flooring that was preserved and not looted.

An excellent example of Doric architecture. Hadrian was passionate about the arts, especially architecture and utilized many different forms from various parts of the Empire including Egypt and Greece. In the background you can view an excellent example of Roman vaulting.

The enormous baths.

I think this is my favorite picture. It shows some of the statues lining one of the fish ponds.

A statue of the god Mars.

A small temple dedicated to Venus. Her headless statue remains in the center.

A view of the incredible cedars lining the way out as we left.


DelGrosso said...

I love these pictures. What an interesting place to visit. Anthony, how would you like to work on a mosaic floor? Thanks for sharing.

Laura Zielke said...

Thank you for posting your photos on the internet. I am teaching two classes this year in which I can share your photos with my students. One is on ancient Rome, and the other is New Testament where they are learning about papyrus and letter writing in the Roman empire. Thank you so much!!!