This small city to the west of Rome, once an important stop on the “Grand Tour” of Europe,  is today a bedroom community of Rome, yet it still maintains its distinct character. It makes a wonderful daytrip from Rome, either by car or with frequent trains leaving from Rome’s Tiburtina train station.

If you are visiting Rome, it’s worth your while to journey to Tivoli to see the Renaissance Villa d’Este  and its spectacular Italian garden and water fountains.

The villa and its gardens were completed in 1549 by Cardinal Hippolyte d’Este, son of Lucrezia Borgia and grandson of the infamous and universally feared Pope Alessandro VI.

This villa and its frescoes are beautiful, but it is the villa’s lovely Italian garden and its numerous, whimsical water fountains that has made this such a popular destination for visitors over the past centuries.

The garden and water fountains were designed by Pirro Ligorio, who would later go on to construct the Monster Park of Bomarzo. In many of the sculptures, visitors can catch a hint of the strange creatures Ligorio would later create in the Monster Park.

The park is filled with fountains, waterfalls, pools and wonderfully refreshing caves. Visitors should leave adequate time to wander the extensive paths and discover the hidden corners and fountains.

Take a break from your wandering at outside seats at the Villa’s cafeteria. In the evenings, there is a picturesque restaurant, with views out over the valley below.

The Villa d’Este is open Tuesday-Sunday from 8:30 am to one hour before sunset.  Admission is 10 euro for adults; children are free.