Rome: Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli


3 hours

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Discover the guided tour to the residence of the famous Emperor Hadrian!

Villa Adriana is the largest of all the imperial villa complexes and extends itself over an area of about 120 hectares, at the foot of the Tiburtine Hills, in the southeast of Tivoli (ancient Tibur), a resort location appreciated since ancient times for its pleasant climate and diverse and charming landscape. Built between 118 and 133 AD, this huge park-like garden is one of the most notable examples of imperial and dynastic palaces to have survived until present days.

The tour of Villa Adriana winds through plateaus, meadows, ponds, ruins and monuments of the most varied shapes and origin, surrounded by greenery in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. After first stopping at a small pavilion, where a plastic model of the original Villa is displayed, the tour will starts from the scenic Lake of the Pecile, heading straight to the Philosopher’s Hall, an imposing apse-shaped hall for holding office, once lavishly decorated. Next to it is the so-called called Maritime Theatre, one of the most unique and famous parts of the complex, a complete “villa in miniature” surrounded by a canal. Villa Adriana was probably the private summer retreat of the emperor.

Through the so-called Libraries Courtyard (which probably used to host summer triclinia), the Villa Adriana tour will continue to the Praetorians’ dormitory (which were the elite guard of the Emperor) and the grand dining room, known as the Imperial Triclinium. From here, we make a quick visit to the Imperial Palace, a series of structures (courtyards, libraries, nymphaeums) which were probably used for State functions. Passing through the Hall of Doric Pillars, we then head to the Golden Square, which was used by the emperor as a Grand Hall for parties and banquets, with facilities that could accommodate hundreds of people.

We then visit the fire station and the Terme con Heliocaminus (the Turkish Bath of the Villa) and, finally, we will be in what was the winter residence of the emperor, an unitary complex consisting of three buildings, a perfect example of the artistic and architectural genius to whom the project owes most of its facilities.

Nearby we will find two Spa facilities: the Piccole Terme (or Small Spa), whose wealth and originality of structure suggest that it was reserved for the Emperor and high-ranking guests, and the Grandi Terme (or Big Spa), probably intended for servants working at the Villa Adriana.

Finally, we come to the most famous and fascinating structure of the entire complex, the focal point of the tour: the Canopu. This was a place of remembrance and introspection for Hadrian, also built in memory and in honour of his great love, the beautiful young Antinous, who died in tragic and mysterious circumstances during a trip to Egypt. Our tour of the Villa can only end with a visit to the Museum of the Canopus, displaying some works of art that once decorated the same Canopus and other buildings of Villa Adriana, as well as architectural elements, wall coatings and interesting explanatory panels.