The Italian Almanac

Villa d'Este

Italian News - July 18

Villa D'Este near Rome is set to vie with European rivals for the laurel of the continent's most beautiful garden. The 16th-century gardens, grounds, fountains and fancy waterworks of this Renaissance jewel at Tivoli have beaten 100 other great Italian gardens to qualify for the competition.

"This is a tribute to the great work of the villa workers as well as the contribution art authorities have made to help us restore the site," Tivoli cultural heritage superintendent Anna Maria Affanni said. "We are very confident about the European competition, even though we know we'll have stiff competition from the great gardens of England, France and Germany". The European Great Garden competition was launched this year.

Villa d'Este recently underwent a major facelift. Its remarkable fountains had been only partially working due to the polluted state of the river Aniene, which provides the water. The water system has now been purified and the fountains have been restored.

The spectacular fountain garden was created by the great architect and landscape gardener Pirro Ligorio for Cardinal Ippolito II D'Este (1509-72), a rich Renaissance prince, collector and patron of the arts. Over the following 150 years, numerous additions and restorations were carried out. One of the most original and famous features of the garden is the monumental Fontana dell'Organo, built around a water-operated organ.

Tivoli, an ancient town situated just outside Rome, also boasts the magnificent ruins of Hadrian's Villa - the largest villa of the Roman Empire.