One of the most magical places in Italy is the Villa d’Este where fountains transport you to the opulence of the Renaissance. The Renaissance villa was designed by Pirro Ligoriot in 1550 for Ippolito d’Este, the son of Lucretia Borgia and Alfonso I, duke of Ferrara. Lucretia was the daughter of Pope Alessandro IV.
Villa d’Este had an extraordinary system of fountains: fifty-one fountains and nymphaeums with 398 spouts, 364 water jets, 64 waterfalls, and 220 basins, fed by 875 meters of canals, channels and cascades, and all working entirely by the force of gravity, without pumps.
In the courtyard, admire the Fountain of Venus. It is the only fountain in the Villa which retains its original appearance and decoration. The fountain, designed by Raffaelo Sangallo in 1568-69, is framed by two doric columns, and crowned by a 4th-century marble bust of the Emperor Constatine. The central element of the fountain is a Roman statue of a sleeping Venus, made in the 4th or 5th centuries A.D.
The Fontana dell’Ovato (“Oval Fountain”) cascades from its egg-shaped basin into a pool set against a rustic nymphaeum.
The Fountain of Diana of Ephesus, or “Mother Nature”
The Fountain of Pegasus
The Hundred Fountains
At the age of 10, Ippolito was named Archbishop of Milan and at 30 he became Cardinal Ippolito d’Este of Ferrara although he never became a pope. He became the governor of the city of Tivoli in 1550. The Governor’s house in Tivoli was the north-east wing of the convent annexed to Santa Maria Maggiore. Ippolito decided to create a structure worthy of competing with the Imperial Villa of Hadrian. He definitely succeeded in attaining his vision!
Enter the Villa from a doorway on the Piazza Trento, next to the entrance of the Church of Santa-Maria Maggiore. The current door dates to 1521.
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