If you’re staying in Rome, a day trip to Tivoli is something you shouldn’t miss. Some 30 kilometers outside of Rome you can find Tivoli, home to several Renaissance villas with beautiful gardens. A few kilometers outside of Tivoli you can explore the ruins of an enormous Roman villa as well. There clearly is enough to see for a whole day trip to Tivoli. On my last trip to Italy (June 2018), I visited the Villa Adriana and the Villa d’Este by public transport from Rome. Since it is not easy to get to these two villas by public transport, I have explained how to get to Tivoli by public transport at the end of this blog post.The ‘canopo’
Table of Contents
- A day trip to Tivoli
- Villa Adriana
- Villa d’Este
- How much time do you need to visit both villas?
- How to get to Tivoli by public transport?
- From Rome to Villa Adriana
- From Villa Adriana to Villa d’Este
- From Villa d’Este back to Rome
A day trip to Tivoli
The Villa Adriana is a Roman villa built as a retreat from Rome for the Roman emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD). It is an enormous complex where you can explore ruins of baths, libraries, temples, and more. Signs with information aren’t numerous and not always very clear. Therefore, if you don’t know a lot about Classical architecture, you may opt for the audioguide. Moreover, it can be very hot on the archaeological site during the summer. Make sure you take a disposable water bottle with you, as there are several fountains with potable water.
Most online pictures of the Villa Adriana show the ‘canopo’. This pond is certainly a highlight of the site. However, to be honest, I had expected more statues alongside this canopo. Nevertheless, this construction is still very elegant, even in ruins.
The canopo is not the only ruin you can visit. The baths of the complex are enormous and very impressive. You can go inside several buildings that served as the baths as well (you’ll feel very small). The Piazza d’Oro (Oro = golden) is another impressive ruin. It used to be a large building with a rectangular open court filled with flower-beds and water basins. The court is named golden after the many important findings that have been uncovered here.Baths
At the end of my visit, I stumbled upon the Maritime Theatre. Inside an portico, an artificial was created. However, the Maritime Theatre is not really a ‘theatre’. Rather, it includes a lounge, library, baths, and even an art gallery. On the island you can make out the ruins of a small Roman house, possibly used by the emperor as a retreat.
On a day trip to Tivoli, another attraction you mustn’t miss is the Villa d’Este. This Renaissance villa was built in the 1550s for Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, the son of Lucretia Borgia. Even more special are the gardens dating from the same century. The villa itself is nice to stroll through (all walls are painted beautifully), but you should spend most of your time in the gardens as they are truly spectacular.
When entering the garden, the first fountain you encounter to your left is the Fontana dell’Ovato, the ‘oval fountain’. Another spectacular fountain is the Fountain of Neptune. Above this fountain is another fountain: the fountain of the Organ. Both fountains together look very grand. It amazes me that this garden and especially these fountains have already been designed in the 16th century.
On the other side of the garden, you have amazing views, as Tivoli is situated on (the slope of) a hill. After some busy days of exploring Rome, the gardenÂ is the perfect place to relax with a good book as well.
How much time do you need to visit both villas?
Tivoli is best explored on a (full) day trip, especially if you rely on public transport. I spend around 3 hours at the Villa Adriana. However, as a classicist I love archaeological sites like these, so you may need a little less time to explore the ruins. Nevertheless, you will likely need at least 2 hours as the site is very large.
You can best have lunch in Tivoli, which is a nice village in itself as well. You will need approximately 1.5 hours to visit the villa and the garden of the Villa d’Este. If you have time left, you can visit another villa in Tivoli: the Villa Gregoriana.
How to get to Tivoli by public transport?
Getting to the Villa Adriana is not easy, but it shouldn’t be skipped on your day trip to Tivoli. If you don’t want the hassle of navigating bus, metro and train, I would recommend to opt for an organised tour to Tivoli. That being said, it is certainly possible to get to the Villa Adriana and the Villa d’Este by public transport.
From Rome to Villa Adriana
First, take metro line B to Ponte Mammolo. If your accommodation is closer to metro line A, you can change at Termini for line B. At Ponte Mammolo, go to the Cotral tickets desk and buy a bus ticket (2.20 for a single ticket). Note: Cotral buses don’t leave from the same platform as the ATAC buses. You need to go upstairs. Cotral buses depart frequently. Ask the bus driver where to get of. From the bus stop, it’s 1200 meters to the archaeological site. Signs denote the way clearly.
From Villa Adriana to Villa d’Este
When you’ve explored the Villa Adriana, there are two options to get to the Villa d’Este. You can either walk back to the bus stop 1200 meters from the site and catch the Cotral bus (1.10 for a single ticket, tickets are available at Ponte Mammolo) to Tivoli.
The second option, which I did, is to take a local bus to Tivoli which departs right in front of the archaeological site. Tickets are 1.30 and you can buy them at the ticket office of the Villa Adriana. You may want to inform beforehand about the bus times, so you don’t have to wait a long time for the bus. I don’t know how frequent these buses leave. When I bought a bus ticket, the bus was just arriving, so I was lucky. Again, ask the bus driver where to get of and walk 5-10 minutes to the villa.
From Villa d’Este back to Rome
When your day trip to Tivoli has come to an end, it is time to head back to Rome. I took the train back to Rome instead of the bus and would recommend this route. From the Villa d’Este to the train station is a 15-20 minute walk. From Tivoli train station you can take a train to Roma Termini or Roma Tiburtina, from both stations you can change for the metro. You can check train times on the trenitalia website. Depending on your location in Rome, a single trip to Tivoli may take 1.5-2 hours.
The editor of Kansas Flint Hills, and pursuer of relatively interesting information. Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.