Tuesday, July 19, 2016
On our way to visit the water garden at the Villa D'Este
John and I noticed a Romanesque church right next door.
Santa Croce in Santa Maria Maggiore has a strong religious atmosphere. It also seems to have escaped renovation in the Baroque period.
The arched decoration of the ceiling looks original. Those are dozens of candelabra hanging down around the altar.
The church has some "spooky" elements like this wonderfully garish Christ figure.
The furnishing of this saint's chapel seems eerie too.
Off to one side we found a Renaissance sculpture beside a much older fresco.
A pilgrim, perhaps, or a monk?
A painted heraldic symbol of the Este family.
A young monk reads a text near a sculpture of Padre Pio. Santa Croce in Santa Maria Maggiore is a step into an "other" world. Worth a visit.
The hill town of Tivoli and the fountains of the Villa d'Este are short bus ride from Rome. It makes a perfect day trip.
John and I knew we were almost there when our bus began climbing a steep hill. That's Mount Tiburtini in the distance.
The entrance courtyard of the Villa d'Este incorporates a cloister from a Benedictine monastery. The present villa was built by Lucretia Borgia's son in 1550.
We passed through delightfully frescoed rooms of the period
to reach the belvedere
overlooking the famous gardens and the landscape below.
Paths led us into a maze of gardens, fountains and courtyards.
A grotto forms a passage behind the basin of the Oval Fountain
and a goddess peaks out above the crest of the water.
Next door, the Fountain of the Hydraulic Organ
is an ornate example of 16th century decoration,
graced with delightful sea sprites bearing fish-head water spouts.
The Fountain of Neptune. Feeling refreshed yet?
The alley of the Hundred Fountains is one of the high points of the garden,
not to be missed,
It stretches across the entire width of the property.
The Fountain of the Dragons is best approached from the lowest level of the gardens
Looking up one can appreciate the scale of the garden architecture.
These dragons spit water.
The lowest level also presents us with views of
fish tanks surrounded by potted plants and pine and cypress trees
that look across at the Fountains of Neptune and the Fountain of the Organ above it.
At the farthest reach of the gardens we arrived at the Fountain of Diana of Ephesus;
also called the Fountain of Mother Nature -- a romantic climax to a sublime garden.
Then it was back to the town of Tivoli with its ancient streets to look for lunch.