Destination: Tivoli & Tarquinia, Italy

Besides visiting Rome, my family and I also made day trips to other parts of the region in Italy during our winter holidays this past December. We went to the Vatican for a half day, and the following day, we did a day trip to Tivoli, a city located about 45 minutes from the capital. It’s home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Hadrian’s Villa and the Villa d’Este. We would spend the day taking a guided tour around both villas and taking in their beauty.

We first toured Hadrian’s Villa, which is the estate of Hadrian, a second-century emperor. While it used to flourish back in the day, today it has become nothing but ruins. Our tour guide showed us an illustration in a book of what it had looked like before it fell into decay, and it certainly was a beautiful sight to see. We walked through the Maritime Theater and the Canopus, both of which were probably the highlights of the villa itself. Our visit there lasted no more than two to three hours and soon enough, we clambered onto the coach to head up to the Villa d’Este, situated on a hill in the beautiful Italian countryside.

Maritime Theater.
The Canopus.

Reaching the other side of Tivoli, we made a stop for lunch before our tour of the other villa. Our tour guide suggested us a trattoria not too far from the Villa d’Este, and all of us ended up filling the entire restaurant, as it was a tiny, family-run affair. Intrigued, I ordered pasta with boar sauce, which turned out to be quite delicious! The pasta was really thick and al dente, which turned out to have the consistency of rice cake, and the sauce was biting with hints of gaminess from the boar meat. I got a tiramisu to end the meal, which was lovely as well.

Pasta with boar sauce.

We spent the afternoon visiting the Villa d’Este, a 16th-century summer residence that’d been popular among the Estes, a family who had close ties to the Borgias. The villa started experiencing a decline in the 18th and 19th centuries before restoration work took place in the 20th century. Today, it’s an incredibly-popular tourist site for day trippers from Rome, as it reaches peak season in the summer– thankfully, we went in the winter, which was not even close to busy, so that we had more space to admire the beautiful interior of the villa and the lush gardens known for its one hundred fountains, both big and small.

Upon entering the villa through a former church’s cloister, our tour guide took us to a viewing deck for spectacular views of parts of Tivoli perched upon the hill, as well as the green, sweeping Italian countryside. Looking even further out, we could make out the hazy silhouette of St. Peter’s Basilica– all the way in Rome! It was difficult to pry our eyes from everything in order to continue our tour– that’s how gorgeous it was.

Views from the terrace.
The Italian countryside.

We spent the majority of the time visiting the gardens, which were built on a slope upon which fountain water trickles down through an intricate pipe before emptying out into ponds at ground level. The water fountains (again, at least one hundred of them) were all lined up neatly along a path on our way to the largest one, the Neptune Fountain. What made the largest one especially unique (besides being the largest one), is the fact that it plays music every hour or so, but powered by the water pressure inside itself. We were fortunate to have heard it during our visit– while not perfect, it was incredible to see just how technology worked to create entertainment for people.

One hundred fountains.
Fountain of Neptune.
Villa garden.

Following the tour, we had some free time to wander the gardens before taking our coach back to Rome in the afternoon. Overall, it’d been a simple, but lovely day trip to a new Italian city.

As for Tarquinia, my family and I took a tour there following our stay in Rome: we first headed to Civitavecchia, a port city where we boarded our cruise ship for a week-long trip along the coasts of Italy and Spain. Whilst still docked there, we opted for a visit of Tarquinia, formerly the Etruscan capital. It’s especially known for the Monterozzi necropolis, in which there are thousands of tombs, but about 200 of them are opened to the public. We descended the underground stairs to view the art work inside the tombs– many were faded from the centuries, but otherwise a marvel to look at. Of course, the jewelry and other antiques that’d been set up along with the tomb didn’t exist anymore due to tomb raiders, but still an interesting part of history to see.

At the necropolis.
Art work inside one of the tombs.

Our tour then took us to Tarquinia’s city center, where we visited its national museum that contained any remaining artifacts unearthed from the tomb. Afterwards, we had some free time to explore the center, and my family and I happened to stumble upon the fortified walls of the city– we climbed on them and got surprisingly lovely views of Tarquinia. Soon enough, we left to return to our cruise ship in Civitavecchia, getting in around noon and ending our half-day trip.

Views of Tarquinia.

More to come soon!

— The Finicky Cynic

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5 thoughts on “Destination: Tivoli & Tarquinia, Italy

  1. Pingback: Destination: Paris, France (Spring Break 2018 Edition– Part 3) – The Finicky Cynic

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