Hadrian’s Villa Tour
Hadrian's Villa tour will allow us to discover the grand 2nd-century AD Hadrian's villa , located 4 miles south of Tivoli, was an emperor’s paradise, an exclusive retreat below the ancient settlement of Tibur where the marvels of the classical world were reproduced for a ruler’s pleasure.
Hadrian, who succeeded Trajan as emperor in AD 117, was a man of genius and intellectual curiosity who was fascinated by the accomplishments of the Hellenistic world. From AD 125 to 134, architects, laborers, and artists worked on the villa, periodically spurred on by the emperor himself when he returned from another voyage full of ideas for even more daring constructions (he also gets credit for Rome’s Pantheon).
After his death, the fortunes of his villa declined. It was sacked by barbarians and Romans alike; many of his statues and decorations ended up in the Musei Vaticani, but what is left of expansive ruins are nonetheless compelling.
It’s not the singular classical elements that make the villa special, rather the peace and harmony of the design that leaves a lasting mark. The vast estate is a fascinating succession of baths, theaters, temples, libraries, guest pavilions, nymphaeums, and open-air gymnasiums. Oleanders, pines, and cypresses growing among the ruins heighten the visual impact.
The most famous “sight” in the Villa is the Canopus, an artificial valley with a long pool modeled after an Egyptian canal on the Nile, surrounded by colonnades and sculptures. Hadrian did not live long enough to enjoy his creation. He fell ill and retired to Baia near Naples, where he died in AD 138.
Transportation private minivan 1 hour away from Rome
Tour length: 2/3 hours
Suggestions: Confortable shoes, a hat, sun cream in Summer. It can get very hot in Summer, it is better to visit Hadrian’s villa early or in the afternoon.
Photo reference: Paliano, Jastrow, Szilas et al., Wikimedia Commons and Jean-Pierre Dalbéra via flickr