TOURS OUTSIDE ROME / TIVOLI
VILLA D'ESTE : 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 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.
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.
TOURS OUTSIDE ROME / ANCIENT OSTIA
ANCIENT OSTIA : 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.
ROMAN HILLS : 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.
TOURS OUTSIDE ROME / CASTELLI ROMANI
The term “Castelli Romani” (Roman Castles) refers to the villages set on the Albani Hills, famous for their beautiful countryside, with its forest, lakes and sumptuous villas. The area famous for its artistic, historical, and archeological heritage, as well as its traditions, cuisine and last but not least, its excellent wines.
THE WINE : Wine production in the Castelli Romani area is, without doubt, the most important in the region, with 70% of the DOC wines of excellent quality due to the volcanic nature of the soil, coming from this area. We start in FRASCATI, the first to be given the DOC classification, and the wine acclaimed by the Romans and used by the Popes. The classic dry wine goes well with the traditional “FRASCHETTA” or, if you prefer “nell’ANTICA OSTERIA” with the heady, slightly sparkling “CANNELLINO”. MARINO and FRASCATI are found together throughout the history of the classic dry white Lazio wine. THE COLLI ALBANI (Albani Hills) are the result of excellent work and organisation, and a hark back to a proud past that is in the process of revival. MONTECOMPATRI COLONNA is produced in the area of the ancient Labicum. This is a very pleasant dry wine that can be enjoyed troughout a meal.
CASTELGANDOLFO : The town takes its name from the Genoese family that established its domain over the area in the Middle Ages and, in addition to its enviable position overlooking the Lake Albano, owes its fame mainly to the fact that it includes the Papal summer residence, housed in the Palace that Pope Urban VIII had built by the great architect, Carlo Maderno. The entrance of this Palace is on the town’s main piazza, opposite the Bernini fountain that is in the centre of the square. To be seen also the Curch of San Tommaso da Villanova, with the cupola designed by Bernini.
NEMI : Continuing along the Via dei Laghi (The Road of the Lakes), lined by carachteristic chestnut trees, we come to Nemi located on top of volcanic rock, almost overhanging the lake two hundred metres below. This small village all centres on the impressive Palazzo Ruspoli that stands for its cylindrical medieval tower. On the banks of the lake, you can visit the “Roman ship museum” that houses scale models of the remains of Caligula’s ships, wich were recovered by means of a huge undertakingt that involved partially draining the lake but were unfortunately destroyed during the Second World War.
GROTTAFERRATA : The history of the town revolves around the famous Abbey founded by the Basilian monks Nilo and Bartolomeo, who later became saints, around the year one thousand. The Abbey and the monastic centre that belonged the Byzantine-Greek-Catholic rite was changed into a fortress in 1473 by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, who later became Pope Julius II. Inside the castle there is the artistic portico of Giuliano da Sangallo. The curch of Santa Maria is also worth a visit with its Romanic façade and 12th Century triphorium bell tower, with Byzantine mosaics and decorations inside. The entire chapel, dedicated to Saint Nilo, is decorated with frescoes by Domenichino.
FRASCATI : We begin our visit from the spacious panoramic terraces of Piazza Marconi with its sweeping view of Rome, the Thyrrenian Sea and the mountains of Sabina, while the opposite slope is dominated by Villa Aldobrandini, built in the 16th Century by Giacomo della Porta. Villa Torlonia is situated on the right, it is now a public park and it contains the “Water Theatre” designed by Carlo Maderno. Close by there is Piazza S.Pietro, the Cathedral with a baroque facade built by Girolamo Fontana. The 17th Century curch of Jesus built by Pietro da Cortona and the Curch of S.Maria del Vivario with its 18th Century facade and Romanic bell tower are not to be missed.
LAKE ALBANO : It takes its name from the Latin “Lacus Albanus”. It lies 293 metres above sea level in a basin formed by two craters of the old Lazio Volcano. Near the middle of its elliptic shape it narrows at the point at wich the two craters meet,and the one to the South is deeper (about 170 metres) and is believed to be the more recent. Lake Albano covers an area of 6 square kilometres, it is 3,5 metres longand has a maximum width of 2,3 km and a perimeter of about 10 km.
LAKE NEMI : It takes its name from the Latin “Lacus Nemorensis”. It is situated on one of the numerous craters of the old Lazio Volcano. It lies at an altitude of 318 m and is about 200 metres below the edge of the crater. It owes its fame to the finding of Caligula’s two ships, built by the Emperor to celebrate the feasts held in honour of the goddess Diana Nemorense.