• Villa Adriana (Tivoli)

Visit: 3rd April 2015tivoli adriana sign

Can you recall there used to be another contributor to this blog? It’s been a long while since we heard from Ross, but I can assure you he is alive and well because over Easter Natalie and I went to Italy with him, his girlfriend Louise and his mother Ayesha. Four of the five of us are pictured above at the entrance to the Villa Adriana, a historic former Roman emperor’s residence in Tivoli, east of Rome. 11100231_10152885431083790_7841784361950881972_n Making efficient use of the four day weekend involved me and Natalie flying to Rome Fiumicino early on Good Friday, where we met up with the three weary travellers fresh from the centre of Rome. This was a seminal trip for the French family as it was the first time Ross’s mum was to meet Louise’s Italian family. They were very kind in inviting us all along for lunch on Easter Sunday at their house near Viterbo, which is about two hours north of Rome. With four days at my disposal I suggested we hire a car and travel up to Viterbo via a night in Tivoli, which is home to not one but two World Heritage Sites – the Roman ruins of Villa Adriana and the Renaissance-era Villa d’Este. 10361975_10155567001930438_8051719776430379661_n The Villa Adriana is really more of a small town, created in large part by the emperor Hadrian, who was a keen amateur architect, in the second century AD. He decided that an out-of-town retreat would be just the thing he needed after he made himself less than universally popular in Rome by having several senators put to death. The site is a bit of a mishmash of buildings of various purposes, which include a grand villa, temples, a large bath house and the water feature known as the Canopus, below. This picture shows the view from the Serapeum, which featured a show-stopping open-air dining area for the emperor’s most honoured guests. 11140018_10152885437418790_728430424014326532_n Around the Canopus Hadrian placed statues that he particularly wanted to show off to his visitors, such as a row of ‘Caryatids’ designed to imitate the female-form columns of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis. Hadrian was a philhellene, or an admirer of all things Greek, so he had numerous statues brought over or copied. He was possibly the first Roman emperor to sport a beard – not, as was cruelly suggested, to conceal acute acne, but because his heroes the Greek philosophers were similarly hirsute. 11059417_10153172624502412_5178401016924619541_n Hadrian showed how sensitive his ego was when he had professional architect Apollodorus of Damascus (the designer of Trajan’s column) killed for daring to ridicule his own architectural attempts (Apollodorus compared a Hadrian building in Rome to a pumpkin). I doubt that Hadrian would have approved of this sort of thing either: 1907716_10152885436908790_1117935348929549263_n On the other side of the site we found the atmospheric Temple of Venus. This area has some of the best views of the Tiburtine Hills, which you can see behind the statue of Venus below. The Villa Adriana is dotted with statues that are presumably not originals but modern copies. There have been some significant finds there over the years that have ended up in major national collections across Europe, such as one of the best Roman copies of the lost Greek Discobolus statue, which you can see nowadays in the British Museum. IMG_4238 All that walking was thirsty work, so as you can imagine we were pleased with the Villa’s network of working water pumps. That evening we journeyed up the hill into Tivoli town centre for a drink and dinner, where we ate at a pleasant restaurant called Il Paradiso Nascosto, before heading back to the hotel in preparation for another day’s World Heritage Siting the following day. IMG_4237


4 thoughts on “• Villa Adriana (Tivoli)

  1. Pingback: Mela Val di Non – Eating the EU

  2. Pingback: • Villa d’Este, Tivoli | Tom's World Heritage Site travel blog

  3. Pingback: • Frontiers of the Roman Empire | Tom's World Heritage Site travel blog

  4. Pingback: • Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura | Tom's World Heritage Site travel blog

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