Italian villa Villa d'Este in Tivoli, Italy
Live like a local

A day out in Tivoli

March 10, 2022

Perched on a hill 30km/19 miles east of Rome, Tivoli was known in Roman times as ‘Tibur’, when it was a retreat for the elite. Step back in time and explore its historical sites and gardens.
View of the Canopus in the Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, Italy

Hadrian’s Villa

Commissioned by Emperor Hadrian, who ruled from 117 to 138 AD, this villa has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. Inspired by Greek, Roman and Egyptian architecture, its magnificent ruined theatres, baths, fountains and galleries are spread over 250 acres of gardens dotted with olive trees and umbrella pines. Summer banquets once took place around Canopus, a long, colonnaded pool with crocodile sculptures – an ode to Rome’s ancient links to Egypt. Another highlight is the ruins of the villa, where the emperor liked to paint. Known as the ‘maritime theatre’, it’s set on a round island.

Largo Marguerite Yourcenar 1, 00019 Tivoli

Villa d'Este gardens

The natural beauty of Villa d’Este’s gardens has inspired the brushstrokes of artists for hundreds of years, including the renowned landscape artist, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, in 1843. Commissioned in the mid-16th century by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este of Ferrara, the estate’s landscaped gardens became the benchmark for gardens all over Europe with their cascading waterfalls, caves and terraces. Renaissance fountains include Ligorio’s Oval Fountain and the impressive music-inspired Water Organ Fountain. Allow several hours to meander through the garden’s winding paths, past vibrant lilies and rose beds.

Piazza Trento 5, 00019 Tivoli

Villa d'Este gardens and fountains in Tivoli, Italy
View of Tivoli Cathedral, San Lorenzo Martire Basilica, Italy

Tivoli Cathedral

Dedicated to Roman martyr Saint Lawrence and originally built for Emperor Constantine, this Roman Catholic cathedral is best visited on a sunny afternoon, when you’ll be treated to an almost heaven-sent ethereal ray of light shining through the nave. Its rich interiors, which glint with gold, reveal the religious artistry of its time. In quiet moments, take time to contemplate the elaborate paintings that decorate the vault and the four saints in the apse, before taking a pew and breathing in the scent of molten candle wax and over 500 years of history.

Via del Duomo 7, 00019 Tivoli

Villa Gregoriana

Commissioned by Pope Gregory XVI in the 1830s, Villa Gregoriana is a paradise for nature-lovers in search of a little magic, with woodland, waterfalls and abundant vegetation. The waterfall of Aniene, known as the ‘Great Waterfall’, is breathtaking, and venturing down the banks of the Aniene River you’ll come across the wondrous Neptune’s Grottoes. From one of the hills catch a glimpse of the Temple of Vesta, which dates back to the early first century BC, and soak up scenic views of the Aniene Valley from the Gregorian Bridge.

Largo Sant’Angelo 1, 00019 Tivoli

Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli, Italy
Interior of Osteria La Briciola in Tivoli, Italy

Authentic dining experiences

Tivoli’s gardens are made for picnics under the sun. For some local fare and delicious pizza, head to the early 20th century Antica Trattoria del Falcone near Villa d’Este. Osteria la Briciola, meanwhile, is intimate and cosy, and specialises in seasonal dishes such as tortellini with forest mushrooms and hazelnuts or rings of calamarata with prawns and pistachio cream. With its wisteria-laced terrace and sweeping views of the Aniene River, Sibilla Restaurant, founded in 1730, has welcomed some legendary personalities through its doors, including King Frederick William III of Prussia and artist Yoko Ono.

Antica Trattoria del Falcone, Via Trevio 34, 00019 Tivoli
Osteria la Briciola, Via Scuole Rurali 1, 00019 Tivoli
Sibilla Restaurant, Via della Sibilla 50, 00019 Tivoli

Tivoli is 40 minutes’ drive from Rome and can be explored in a day from Hotel Eden. Rome is also renowned for its beautiful villas and gardens, all within easy reach of the hotel.

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