Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Italy.

One of the many things I have learned from travel is the importance of trying to be in the moment… (Note the key word is “trying” because it is so easy to be distracted by future details or the pull back home). On this day, several of us decided to get a sandwich from a small family run restaurant to the right of the entrance to the gardens before going in. The family could not have been nicer and we were all just enjoying being with each other even though we did not speak the other’s language. Before leaving, they generously gifted each of us with their home made olive oil. It is the best I have ever tasted! If we were rushing to get into the gardens, we would have missed such a moment of warmth, hospitality and welcome.

I could feel every muscle and every tension in my body just simply melt away within a few minutes of entering the Villa d’Este (also known as the Tivoli Gardens). This truly is a masterpiece of the Italian garden and Renaissance estate. In the 1500’s, Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, the son of Lucretia Borgia, came here to recover after a failed bid for the papacy and took on the position of Governor of Tivoli. He commissioned Pirro Ligorio and Alberto Galvani to carry out his magnficient dream for his new home and probably soothe his shattered ego – which is a very good thing for us now!

The garden was featured in the opening of the movie, Three Coins in the Fountain and the palace has beautiful frescoes in the reception rooms with breath taking views. The gardens are composed of approximately 500 fountains from grand scale to simple cascading water into small ponds. According to Italy Heaven, “A number of paths and steps lead down through the formal slopes to panoramas and fountains.” One can simply wander and explore beautiful manicured walkways with views of the Rometta , The Water Organ, The Fountains of Dragons and the Path of One Hundred Fountains…each so unique and each providing such an inviting experience into serenity.

Something tells me Ippolito probably never looked back!

Copyright 2012 Frances Schwabenland. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of Frances Schwabenland.