Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The aura of Renaissance

With its architecture, gardens and fountains, this town near Rome takes Sukanya Ramanujan to another era

It is not often that we think of anything in Italy as being more ancient than Rome. But the city of Tivoli, to which I am headed on a bus with a group of other tourists, has traces of settlement dating to the 13th Century BC and was also once a rival of Rome. It is almost unfortunate that today most of us only know Tivoli as a software created by IBM!

Tivoli is about 25 km from Rome. It takes us just about half-an-hour to reach the town, and yet the landscape has changed immeasurably. Situated around hills, Tivoli (or Tibur as it was known in ancient times) has always been a quick summer getaway from Rome. Castel Gandolfo — the Pope's summer residence is also not far from the town.

Our first destination in Tivoli is the Villa d'Este. A magnificent residence of palatial dimensions, this building exudes the aura of Renaissance. Commissioned in the late 16th Century by the Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este who failed to become the Pope, the villa stretches over the terraced slope of a hill. The series of rooms in the villa is beautifully decorated with paintings by prominent painters such as Federico Zuccari. From the suite of rooms we move to the terrace and it's at this point we realise that the uniqueness of the villa is the beautiful layout of the gardens and fountains along the slope of the terrace.

The fountains are no ordinary ones. The nearly-a-minute concert of the Organ Water Fountain plays once every few hours because of the water's pressure. We then make our way through the meandering paths full of waterways and grottos to reach the Hundred Fountains area — there are literally a hundred small fountains installed along the wall! There are many more — the fountain of Neptune, the fountain of Ovato (shaped like an egg) and so on…

via http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/metroplus/article3722287.ece