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Villa Adriana and Villa d'Este, Tivoli
Tivoli is also the site of an imposing architectural complex dating to Hadrian's time. This emperor's gifts as an architect can be seen in the series of palaces, baths, theatres, etc. which he had built there between 118 and 134 and which were meant to remind him, here in Italy, of the places he most loved in Greece and the Near East. Right outside Rome, Tivoli, the ancient Tibur, was already a favourite holiday resort for the Romans as well as a place for the worship of local divinities. It is now the site of the Villa Gregoriana, a fine Cathedral, the renowned Rocca Pia, and, above all, the Villa d'Este, with an Italian garden deservedly famous for its magic atmosphere.
Built on the ruins of a Roman villa, it was first a Benedictine convent and then the Governor's Palace, and as such was magnificently restored by Pirro Ligorio on commission of the governor at the time, Ippolito d'Este, around 1550. After various vicissitudes it became the property of Austria, was returned to the Italians in 1918, then restored before the monumental part and the immense park were opened to the public. Of note on the grounds is the Loggia by Pirro Ligorio, which is the finest part of the main facade which faces the city and the mountains. The Italian gardens, with their geometric compartmentalisation, the five hundred fountains, the age and rarity of the trees, is certainly one of the finest gardens to be found both in and outside Italy.
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