Villa d'Este (Tivoli)

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Organ Fountain - Villa d'Este (Tivoli)

UNDER CONSTRUCTION


The Villa d'Este is situated at Tivoli, near Rome. It is a fine example of Renaissance Architecture and the Italian Renaissance garden. The villa is a masterpiece of the Italian Garden, it is included in the UNESCO world heritage list. With its impressive concentration of fountains, nymphs, grottoes, plays of water, and music, it constitutes a much-copied model for European gardens in the mannerist and baroque styles.

The garden is generally considered within the larger and altogether extraordinary context of Tivoli itself: its landscape, art and history which includes the important ruins of ancient villas such as the Villa Adriana, as well as a zone rich in caves and waterfalls displaying the unending battle between water and stone. The imposing constructions and the series of terraces above terraces bring to mind the hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the ancient world. The addition of water including an aqueduct tunneling beneath the city evokes the engineering skill of the Romans themselves.

Ippolito II d'EsteVilla d'Este was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (left), son of Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonso I d'Este and grandson of Pope Alexander VI. He had been appointed Governor of Tivoli by Pope Julius III, with the gift of the existing villa, which he had entirely reconstructed to plans of Pirro Ligorio carried out under the direction of the Ferrarese architect-engineer Alberto Galvani, court architect of the House of Este. The chief painter of the ambitious internal decoration was Livio Agresti from Forlì. From 1550 until his death in 1572, when the villa was nearing completion, Cardinal d'Este created a palatial setting surrounded by a spectacular terraced garden in the late Renaissance Mannerist style, which took full advantage of the dramatic slope but required innovations in bringing a sufficient water supply, which was employed in cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets and fountains, giochi d'acqua. The result is one of the series of great 17th century villas with water-play structures in the hills surrounding the Roman Campagna, such as the Villa Lante, the Villa Farnese at Caprarola and the Villas Aldobrandini and Torlonia in Frascati. Their garden planning and their water features were imitated in the next two centuries from Portugal to Poland.

The rooms of the Palace were decorated under the tutelage of the stars of the late Roman Mannerism, such as Livio Agresti, Federico Zuccari, Durante Alberti, Girolamo Muziano, Cesare Nebbia and Antonio Tempesta. The work was almost complete at the time of the Cardinal’s death (1572). From 1605 Cardinal Alessandro d'Este gave the go-ahead to a new progam of interventions not only to restore and repair the vegetation and the waterworks, but also to create a new series of innovations to the layout of the garden and the decorations of the fountains.

Other works were carried out from 1660 – 70; these involved no less a figure than Gianlorenzo Bernini. In the eighteenth century the lack of maintenance led to the decay of the complex, which was aggravated by the property’s passage to the House of Hapsburg. The garden was slowly abandoned, the water works-- no longer used--fell into ruin, and the collection of ancient statues enlarged under Cardinal Ippolito, was disassembled and scattered.

This state of decay continued without interruption until the middle of the nineteenth century, when Gustav von Hohelohe, who obtained in enfiteusi the villa from the Dukes of Modena in 1851, launched a series of works to pull the complex back from its state of ruin. Between 1867 and 1882 the Villa once again became a cultural point of reference, with the Cardinal frequently hosting the musician Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886), who composed Giochi d'acqua a Villa d'Este for piano while a guest here, and who in 1879 gave one of his final concerts.

At the outbreak of the first world war the villa became a property of the Italian State, and during the 1920s it was restored and opened to the public. Another, radical restoration was carried out immediately after the Second World War to repair the damage caused by the bombing of 1944. Due to particularly unfavorable environmental conditions, the restorations have continued practically without interruption during the past twenty years (among these it is worth noting the recent cleaning of the Organ Fountain (top) and also the “Birdsong”).







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