VILLA D'ESTE In 1550 Cardinal Ippolito d'Este,son of Lucretia Borgia and Alfonso d'Este,built Villa d'Este following the project of Pirro Ligorio.The Villa is reputed to stand on the site of an ancient medieval district called "Valle Gaudente".The magnificient fountains are fed by the waters of the Aniene trough a series of pipes wich pass under the historical centre.The courtyard wich corresponds to the present entrance of the Villa was the cloister of a Benedectine convent incorporated in the monumental building of the Villa.The Italian style gardens with their beautiful fountains are a splendid example of the art and the architecture of the Renaissance.Some of the most famous fountains are: the Fountain of the Bicchierone (Large Glass),the One Hundred Fountains,the Fountain of the Ovato,the Fountain of the Dragons and the Fountain of the Hydraulic Organ (where a perfectly functioning organ was placed).
HADRIAN'S VILLA Located on a plane at the foot of Tivoli,it is considered,for the magnificence of its architecture,one of the most important sites of ancient Rome.The Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of the Villa and supervised the work personally (118-138 D.C.).The construction was carried out in several succesive phases; the first one concerned the restoration of an ancient Republican villa.Hadrian's Villa consists of a group of monumental buildings,roads,water ponds,libraries,theatres and temples wich some people considered to be the reproduction of similar buildings and monuments that the Emperor visited during his travels.A town that extends on an area about 300 acres.Among the most important buildings,there are: the Pecile,the one hundred Camerelle,the Ninfeo,the small and the big thermal baths (Terme),the Canopo,the Palazzo Imperiale with the Piazza D'Oro and the Teatro Marittimo.
VILLA GREGORIANA AND THE GREAT WATERFALL It is also known as the "Villa of Manlio Volpisco" who was the owner of the villa destroyed during the Roman age.Its rare beauty is due to the naturalistic aspects wich exalt the presence of waters of the Aniene river.One can admire:the Great Waterfall (more than 100 mts. high) impetuosly coming out from the artificial tunnels dug in 1826 after the catastrophic flood of the river;the Caves of Neptune and of the Sirens where the river itself disappears under the rocks and reappears downstream.The charm of these natural places and the characteristic ecosystem make Villa Gregoriana a unique place in the world.
Tradition has it that Ostia,a Roman colony,was founded by King Ancus Marcius at the mouth of Tiber,where according to legend,Aeneas had landed after his Trojan peregrinations.Archeological documents do not,however,place the date of the founding prior to the end of the 4th century B.C.,limited pehrhaps to only the Castrum (fortified town) whose remains,in tufa blocks,can still be seen.A military colony for the defense of the entrance to the river,it is probable that it was also founded to exploit the salt-works.It was a gathering place for the fleet and a shipyard,and a sorting,distribution,and provisioning center for Rome.The inhabitants of Ostia were merchants,shipowners,personnel working with the Annona (food department) and with river,sea and land transportation,craftsmen,laborers,largely foreigners,free men and slaves,brought together in associations,speaking various languages,and practicing different religions.Evidence of this can be seen in the sanctuaries,temples and aedicules dedicated to Eastern,Persian,Phrygian and Egyptian deities as well, as the local ones.Recently a Synagogue was discovered.The Christians left late traces.The true port of Ostia was that founded by Claudius,called Ostia or of Augustus,about two and a half kilometers away,near the present-day Leonardo da Vinci Airport(Fiumicino).But the efficiency of this port was short lasting,and it was replaced by the nearby Port of Trajan,later called Port of Rome.
In the province of Rome villas presents different aspects of extraordinary interest,from environment to archeology,from architecture to pictorial decorations and the elegant choice of furnishing.In the Castelli Romani area there is a vast,precious,artistic,cultural and historic heritage represented by the architectonic,botanic complex known as "Ville Tuscolane" that extends into an area that includes the Municipalities of FRASCATI,MONTEPORZIO CATONE and GROTTAFERRATA.VILLA ALDOBRANDINI in Frascati (25 km from Rome) is considered the queen of the "Ville Tuscolane" and one of the most beautiful in Europe.The building is the work of Giacomo della Porta;the nympheum is embellished by niches and statues.Inside,one can admire paintings by the Zuccari brothers and frescoes by the Domenichino;Cavalier d'Arpino painted the "Storia Sacra"there.VILLA LANCELLOTTI rises on part of the Lucullo villa.The building preserves paintings by Annibale Caracci.VILLA FALCONIERI ownes its name to Cardinal Alessandro Falconieri,who had it restored in 1727.Before,it was known as Villa Rufina.Borromini designed the Central Building;it contains caricatures of the society at that time and lovely female figures;there is a small,rectangular shaped lake in the park.VILLA TUSCOLANA OR RUFINELLA,constructed in 1580 on the highest point with respect to the other villas,the project of the building was done by Luigi Vanvitelli.This sumptuous residence belonged to Luciano Bonaparte.VILLA TORLONIA currently a public park,was constructed in 1563 for Annibal Caro who translated and recomposed the Aeneid here;it has a water show designed by Carlo Maderno,who assisted in creating all types of artistic shows.VILLA MONDRAGONE is included in the area of Monteporzio Catone and was constructed by Martino Longhi in 1515,to fulfil the wishes of Pope Gregory XIII;the majestic loggia is by Vignola.The heraldig dragon of the Boncompagnis,the lineage of the Pope,was placed above the fountain in the large square;for this reason the villa was called Mondragone.VILLA GRAZIOLI in Grottaferrata,was constructed by Mascherino and decorated in three subsequent phases from the beginning of the 1600s until the mid-1700s.