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Tivoli, Province of Roma, Lazio

Tivoli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the classical Tibur, is an ancient Italian town some 20 km west from Rome with a long-standing reputation as a stylish resort, at the falls of the Aniene, where it issues from the Sabine hills.

There are spectacular views out over the Roman Campagna. The name of the city came to be used in diminutive form as Tiburi instead of Tibur and so transformed through Tibori to Tiboli and finally to Tivoli. But its inhabitants are still called Tiburtini. There was further villa construction from the Renaissance onwards, the most famous of Tivoli's Renaissance villas being the Villa d'Este, begun in 1549 by Pirro Ligorio for Cardinal Ippolito d'Este. The quarries of the area are important for the production of travertine, a particular white calcium carbonate rock which most of Roman monuments were made of.
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Provinces of Lazio

Info

  • Altitude: 235 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 63,000 inhabitants in 2010
  • Zip/postal code: 00019
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0774
  • Patron Saint: St. Lorenzo and Santa Sinforosa, celebrated on 10th August
  • Frazioni & Localities: Campolimpido, Favale, Tivoli Terme, Villa Adriana, Arci.

History

Gaius Julius Solinus cites Cato the Elder's lost "Origines" for the story that the city was founded by Catillus the Arcadian, a son of Amphiaraus, who came there having escaped the slaughter at Thebes. Catillus and his three sons Tiburtus, Coras, and Catillus drove out the Sicilians from the Aniene plateau and founded a city named Tibur in honor of Tiburtius. Virgil in his Aeneid makes Coras and the younger Catillus twin brothers and the leaders of military forces from Tibur aiding Turnus.

From Etruscan times Tibur was the seat of the Tiburtine Sibyl. There are two small temples above the falls, traditionally associated with Vesta and the Sibyl of Tibur, whom Varro calls 'Albunea', the water nymph worshipped on the banks of the Anio as a tenth Sibyl to the nine mentioned by the Greek writers. In the nearby woods, Faunus had a sacred grove. During the Roman Age Tibur maintained a certain importance, also being on the way (the via Tiburtina, extended as the via Valeria) that Romans had to follow to cross the mountain regions of the Apennines to get into the Abruzzi, pass through Marsica and Corfinium and reach the Adriatic port of Aternum (today's Pescara).

Tibur acquired Roman citizenship in 90 BCE and became a resort area famed for its beauty and its copious good water, and was enriched by many Roman villas. The most famous one, of which the ruins remain, is the Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Villa), but Maecenas and Augustus also had villas at Tibur, and the poet Horace had a modest villa. He and Catullus and Statius all mention Tibur in their poems.

What to see

  • Villa Adriana, located in the valley underneath Tivoli. Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of the Villa and supervised the work personally (118-138 AD). Hadrian's Villa consists of a group of monumental buildings, roads, water features, baths, libraries, theatres and temples which are considered as the reproduction of similar buildings that the Emperor visited during his travels.
    Villa AdrianaVilla Adriana
  • Villa d'Este: in 1550 Cardinal Hippolyte d'Este, the son of Lucretia Borgia and Alfonso I 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 magnificent fountains are fed by the waters of the Aniene through a series of pipes which pass under the historical centre. The Italian-style garden with its beautiful fountains is a splendid example of the Renaissance gardens' art and architecture. 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.
    Villa d'Este Villa d'Este
  • The church of San Silvestro, 12th century, originally had three naves with a double row of 12 marble columns, but in the 17th century the two aisles were walled up and the columns sold. Especially interesting are the frescoes decorating the triumphal arch and the apse, dating from the latter half of the 12th century, and representing the legend of Emperor Costantine and of St. Sylvester.
  • Villa Gregoriana and Waterfall, almost a unique place in the world, also known as the "Villa of Manlio Vopisco" the owner of the destroyed villa during the Roman age. Its rare beauty is due to the naturalistic aspects which exalt the presence of the waters of the Aniene river, among them the Great Waterfall (over 330 feet high) coming out from the artificial tunnels dug in 1826 after the catastrophic flood of the river, and the caves of Neptune and of the Sirens where the river disappears under the rocks and reappears downstream.

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