Tivoli, known as Tibur to the ancient Romans, is located approximately 20 miles east of Rome on Via Tiburtina. It was in Tivoli, centuries ago, where the wealthiest Romans built their summer villas.
It remains the home to Villa d'Este, known for its world-famous baroque fountains and spectacular Italian gardens. Villa d'Este was the estate of Cardinal Ippolito D'Este, built on a hillside in the mid-16th century.
The villa was converted from a Benedictine convent to a country retreat for Cardinal d'Este, grandson of Borgia Pope Alexander VI. The Cardinal, who believed in creating heaven on earth, designed the spectacular gardens and whimsical fountains that adorn the property to this day. The elaborate gardens were built along the slope of the countryside, with cleverly constructed terraces above offer a magical view of the beauty. Probably the most formal gardens in Italy, they are virtually symmetrical – enhanced by the Mannerist-style statues, pools and playful fountains.
Villa d'Este is known for its vast use of water in creating the spectacular gardens. Some of the fountains are so big that you can walk inside – surrounded by arches that are naturally formed by the water stream. The fountains along the garden walks include the Rometta Fountain, which reproduces in miniature some of Rome's most famous monuments, and the Organ Fountain, where organ pipes, concealed under the water, play music as if by magic.
Though Villa d'Este is the main attraction in the Appenine hill town of Tivoli, garden enthusiasts can't miss the waterworks wonders of Hadrian's Villa (118 to 134 A.D.), known for its landscaping that is lined with temples and gardens; and the Villa Gregoriana, complete with hillside temple ruins, gorges, caves and designer waterfalls.
Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Periods
The large gardens of medieval Europe were divided into four separate areas: herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers. Most monasteries were surrounded by cloistered walkways, each with an ornate fountain or a deep stone well in the center.
Castles gave way to villas during the dawn of the Renaissance in Italy. The palaces and villas of that era were landscaped with borders of tall cypress trees and yew hedges. The flowerbeds were geometric, and the fountains were magnificent. Sculptures and stone balustrades fit in with the overall design in Roman tradition. The more elaborate gardens could be found at Villa Medici in Rome and Villa d'Este in Tivoli, during the 16th century.
During the 17th century, the gardens of Italy became more and more elaborate in design. They were unique in their style by the use of sculptured allegorical figures, spouting fountains and rushing waterfalls. Each garden seemed to be more ornate than the one before it. Examples are the Villa Garzoni in Collodi, Villa Giovio in Como and the gardens on the Isola bella in Lake Maggiore.
As the Italian Renaissance and baroque gardens grew in magnitude and appeal, versions began to appear in other parts of Europe. Formal gardens adorned the great chateaus of the Loire Valley in France and in Spain, the gardens of Alcazar in Seville.
It was also during the 17th century that France made its mark as the primary inspiration of architectural and landscape design. Miles and miles of symmetrically arranged gardens graced the landscape, adding a sense of majesty that complemented the royal architecture of its era. The gardens were specifically designed to give the impression of vast expansiveness, with radiating alleyways lined with evergreen trees, manicured hedges, ornate fountains and statuary. Versailles, with its vast gardens, was duplicated in dozens of areas throughout Europe.
Create Your Own Private Oasis
The ingredient that makes Tivoli Gardens so unique and magnificent is its vast use of water. The hundreds of fountains and waterfalls create a beauty all on their own. To capture the enchantment that water can bring to your gardens, be sure to visit Westbrook Landscape online at www.westbrooklandscape.com. Westbrook Landscape can create magic with their spectacular garden plans. Everything from unique large-scale waterfalls, stonework and trickling streams can be created in your own backyard. Contact them online or call them direct at 203-272-4555.
To duplicate the beautiful garden structures that complement the gardens of Rome, contact the experts at www.gardenstructure.com. The company that installs all the decorative pergolas, arbors and intricate trelliswork is based 20 minutes north of Barrie, Ontario, Canada. They also offer original do-it-yourself plans for the handyman so that he can create his own garden structure step by step. Call them for more details at 705-322-9919, or visit them online and check out their gallery of photos.
The three major elements of a renaissance garden are evergreen plants, stonework and water. To find quality plants and shrubs to create the strong geometrical designs found at Tivoli gardens, consult with the gardening experts at Richmond Nursery Inc. Richmond Nursery also offers professional installation and delivery services. They work closely with Yards Unlimited for those people lookingfor a complete landscape plan including garden walkways and more. They can be reached at 613-838-2282, or visit them on the Internet at www.richmondnursery.com.