For today no bikes. Yes, because the next UNESCO site is within walking distance from the last one. Villa d'Este is located in Tivoli too, and this allows us to rest our quads for a day, waiting for the descent into the hot plain of Rome.
We leave the camp to go downtown with the “VanMac”. Here, after about half an hour of searching, we finally find a suitable parking. With all our equipment we approach the entrance of the villa.
In the mid-sixteenth century, the wealthy Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, who was appointed governor of Tivoli, wanted to transform with his money the residence assigned to him, a former Benedictine monastery. From 1549 until his death in 1572, Ippolito commissioned and followed the work of the villa and the garden below, making the interior rooms decorated with frescoes and adapting the shape of the hill to the needs of the huge park under construction.
The whole villa was filled with references to paganism, often approaching the figure of Cardinal to that of Hercules - mythological ancestor of the Este family - displaying on the walls of the house all his supposed virtues combined with the Greek hero's life, in the hope of reaching what Ippolito considered the best result of all: his appointment as Pope.
However, Cardinal was not well seen by the centers of power of the Church, although he proved to be, in respect of his colleagues, a 'sample' of chastity, having only one lover and only one illegitimate child. Not only he was not able to become Pope, but in 1555 he was even expelled from the confines of the Papal States.
We enter the home of a man who intended to celebrate its greatness through an element, the water. Ippolito d'Este brought to this place also many statues and decorations found and removed from the site of Villa Adriana, in an attempt to emulate the taste of the great Roman Emperor for fountains and waterfalls.
The buildings, inside and outside, were decorated with covers of precious colored marbles, imported from around the Mediterranean basin, or with frescoes, of which few traces remain. The mosaics, finally, adorned the floors.
After the visit, we leave with a heavy heart the crisp air and the colors of the garden to go out, inside the noise and the chaos of traffic. Just a door to separate two different worlds. In one there is peace, nature and tranquility, in the other one reign loud voices, the sounds of cars and construction sites.
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