Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Italy Trip: Rome (Day 3)

Rome, Day 3

On our third day, we took a bus out of Rome to visit the Villa D'Este, at nearby Tivoli.

The villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este, the governor of Tivoli, in the mid 16th century. It contained a great deal of decoration and paintings. It was a little dim inside, though, so it was hard to photograph. Anyway, all this was a prefix to the gardens.

The villa sits on the slopes of a high hill. The view of the surrounding countryside is breathtaking.

The garden grounds are quite large, and surprisingly lush for March. There are over 500 fountains and pools. The water is provided by the Aniene river, part of which is diverted through Tivoli, and by a natural spring.

Perhaps because we were ahead of the peak tourist season, or perhaps because they needed repair, some fountains were not functioning. The Fontana della Civetta (Fountain of the Owl) was supposed to have the mechanical owl chase the singing sparrow figurines from the fountain at set times in the day. Le Cento Fontane (The Hundred Fountains) were not running, but I included a picture online that shows how they would look. Likewise for Fontana dell'Ovato (The Oval Fountain).

The Hundred Fountains lead the way to the Rometta (Little Rome) fountain. Romulus and Remus should be familiar. The ship represents the island Tiberina. At the top stands the goddess Roma. The fountain used to contain miniatures of Roman buildings, as well.

The Fontana dell'Organo (The Fountain of the Organ) periodically opens to reveal the organ. Added late in the 16th century, the organ used hyrdaulics to move air and drive the keys. It really played itself, that long ago! After several years, restorers finally replicated the feat. It draws quite a crowd at the set times.

Small waterfalls run down the handrails of the circular stairs surrounding the Fontana dei Draghi (The Fountain of the Dragons). The fountain commemorates Hercules' defeat of the hundred-headed dragon during his eleventh labor. The jets were made so that an interrupting water supply caused crackling sounds. The Fontana di Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) was probably the biggest attraction. A large waterfall coming down from the organ fed into three large fish ponds.

After enjoying our day in Tivoli and riding back to Rome, we found a place very near our hotel to try our first Italian pizza. Second ordered four cheese, and I ordered diavola (pepperoni), but we shared so we could try both. It was delicious! But just wait until we get to our next city.