Tivoli (Italy) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main attractions of Tivoli with descriptions, travel guides and maps.
City of Tivoli (Italy)
Tivoli is a small town in Central Italy in the Lazio region. It is located a few dozen kilometers from Rome on a limestone hilly ridge above the gorge, carved by the river Anio. Tivoli has an ancient history and several world-renowned attractions, being one of the best destinations for a day trip from the Italian capital, where you can see the ruins of the grandiose ancient villa of Emperor Hadrian and the magnificent Villa D’Este with terraced gardens and striking fountains, as well as fragments of ancient Roman aqueducts, a medieval castle and several interesting churches.
In ancient times Tivoli was one of the favorite resorts of the Roman nobility and several emperors of the Roman Empire, who sought refreshment here to escape the heat of the Eternal City.
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Geography and climate
Tivoli is located 25 km East from Rome on the Anio River, in the beautiful setting of the Sabine Hills. The city has a Mediterranean climate characterized by warm and dry summers and cool and humid winters.
Panorama of Tivoli
- Population – 57 thousand people.
- Area – 68 km 2
- Language: Italian.
- Currency – euros.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
It is believed that Tivoli was founded more than three thousand years ago. The city was known as Tibur, and for a time it even competed with Rome itself. In the 4th century BC, Tivoli allied with the Gauls and was eventually subjected to the Roman Empire.
During the Roman period, the ancient Tibur was a popular resort for the Roman nobility. Emperors and powerful nobles built their villas here. Also important roads to the east of the Apennine Peninsula passed through the city.
Tibur was ravaged by barbarians in the 5th century. Beginning in the 10th century, Tivoli, governed by elected consuls, was Rome’s most important rival in the struggle for control of impoverished Lazio. The city then fell under the control of the popes, while retaining some of its independence until the 15th century.
From the 16th century Tivoli was under the control of the D’Este family. In the 18th century the city was for a time captured by the Austrians. In 1944 Tivoli was damaged by Allied bombing.
How to get there
Trains from Rome to Tivoli leave from Tiburtina station. The trip takes about an hour. Tickets can be bought in special vending machines. Buses to Tivoli leave from Rome’s Ponte Mammolo metro station on line B. The bus stops near Villa Adriana. If you get off at Piazza Garibaldi, you can quickly reach Villa D’Este. There is a city bus 4 between Villa Adriana and downtown Tivoli.
The train is a more efficient mode of transportation than the bus.
Villa Hadrian is one of the most famous landmarks of Tivoli and a magnificent monument of Antiquity, amazing in its scope. This country estate was built in the 2nd century AD for the Roman Emperor Hadrian, one of the most powerful and famous rulers of the Roman Empire. The villa is located on a hillside west of Tivoli and has an area of 120 hectares.
Villa Hadrian has an area almost equal to the city of Pompeii. This Roman emperor, known as an avid traveler, tried to reproduce here some of the structures and art objects he saw during his travels in Greece and Egypt. Most of the original artifacts are preserved in museums in Rome.
Villa Hadrian is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest known ancient Roman villa. Unfortunately, most of the estate is an imposing ruin, among which you can discern the emperor’s palace, thermae, a maritime theater, fragments of fountains, and a pond surrounded by sculptures.
Villa D’Este is another magnificent landmark of Tivoli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is best known for its terraced gardens with fountains, which are considered the pinnacle of Italian landscape design. The villa was founded in the 16th century by the powerful Cardinal Ippolito d’Este on the site of an old Benedictine monastery. It is located in the western part of the center of Tivoli next to the Duomo.
The fountains of Villa D’Este
Villa D’Este is not just one garden, but an entire garden and park complex decorated with sculptures, magnificent fountains, water features, pools, cascades, grottos and terraces with spectacular views of the Roman Campania. Numerous fountains are powered by the natural pressure of the water that flows down the steep slope from the Anio River.
The central structure of the villa is the palace, which was built in a former Benedictine monastery. Here you can see masterpieces of Late Roman mannerism and remarkable frescoes. Later the palace belonged to the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand.
The Gregorian Villa is a picturesque garden with waterfalls and grottos, built by order of Pope Gregory XVI in 1835. The villa is located to the east of Piazza Rivarola and covers the gorge of the Anio River. The waters of this river are diverted through a long double tunnel laid on the west side of Monte Catillo to prevent frequent and destructive floods. At the end of the tunnels is an imposing 108-meter fountain.
Temple of Vesta
Not far from Villa Gregoriana there are fragments of the acropolis of ancient Tibur. The circular temple is dedicated to the goddess Vesta and is preserved in excellent condition. Here you can see 10 original Corinthian columns. The temple was built in the second or first century BC. A nearby rectangular temple of the same period is dedicated to Sibylla.
The Castle of Pius
The Castle of Pius is an ancient medieval fortress built in the 15th century. This mighty fortification was built during the conflicts between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines to protect Tivoli. The perimeter of the castle is protected by four toothed towers and the ramparts have an arched design.
Interestingly, above the entrance there is an inscription stating that this castle was built by Pope Pius II to protect the citizens. But in fact, the pontiff’s intentions were more selfish. The castle was to remind the city of the papal power. Not far from the castle and Piazza Garibaldi are the ruins of an amphitheater dating back to the 2nd century AD. A large part of this ancient structure, which held 2,000 spectators, was destroyed during the construction of Pius’ castle.
There are several ancient Roman aqueducts around Tivoli. The Aqueduct of Marcius (on the photo), built in the 2nd century B.C., was the third (and the longest – 91 km) of the 11 aqueducts of ancient Rome and up to the present day is one of the main sources of water supply of the Italian capital.
The Duomo is a cathedral in the center of Tivoli dedicated to St. Lawrence. According to legend, this ancient church was built in the early 4th century by Emperor Constantine on the site of the city forum. The building was rebuilt in Romanesque style between the 11th and 12th centuries. At the same time, a 47-meter bell tower was built. The present Baroque appearance of the cathedral is from the 17th century.
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore
The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is another ancient church in Tivoli, founded in the 5th century. Its building has been rebuilt several times throughout its centuries-long history, so you can see Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance features in its architecture. Interesting features of the church: the Gothic portal, the medieval wooden crucifix of the 15th century, the San Francesco Chapel decorated with frescoes, the wooden altar of the Virgin Mary, the triptych by Bartolomeo Bulgarini of the 14th century, the magnificent high altar of the 16th century.
Church of San Biagio
The Church of San Biagio is a medieval church built by Pope Boniface IX at the end of the 14th century. It is located in the central square of Tivoli (del Plebiscito).
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15 Sights in Tivoli Worth Seeing
Despite its proximity to the Italian capital and its small size, Tivoli is rich in many unique sites of interest to tourists. Thanks to its strategic location on the River Agnène, the commune, founded in ancient Roman times, was an important settlement during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.
In terms of attractions, Tivoli is known for its historic architecture. The commune attracts tourists with extremely beautiful waterfalls, an ancient Roman amphitheater, as well as several luxurious bars and restaurants. Tivoli’s proximity to Rome allows travelers to make a day trip here or use this commune as a place to start exploring Lazio.
Villa Adriana | Photo: Riccardo Cuppini / Flickr
Few people know that to the west of Tivoli is a giant complex built for Hadrian, the Roman emperor. It covers an area of 120 hectares. There are countless ancient structures preserved here that help you immerse yourself in the era of ancient Rome.
The villa in Tivoli, which the emperor chose for his residence in the second century because of its picturesque natural scenery, played the role of a refuge for the monarch, who hid here from the social life of Rome. Now you can appreciate the beauty of several well-preserved sites: the great (great) baths, the four-sided portico, the Sea Theatre and the Piazza d’Oro (Golden Square).
In addition, the villa houses artifacts such as pottery, pottery and mosaics. If you’re in Tivoli, be sure to visit Villa Hadrian’s.
Address: Villa Adriana, Largo Marguerite Yourcenar, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Villa d’Este Gardens
The gardens of Villa d’Este.| Photo: Andy Hay / Flickr.
These gardens are said to be the most famous in the country as an example of landscape design during its heyday in Italy. The gardens, which cover quite a large area, are located on the west side of the city next to the cathedral.
It will take you quite a while to get to know the different corners of this green space. There are several exquisite fountains in the gardens: Neptune, Tivoli, and Central. All of them are decorated with ornaments and sculptures. There are a variety of trees growing in the gardens. This is one of the best places to walk in Tivoli. The acquaintance with the gardens can be combined with a visit to Villa d’Este.
Address: Villa d’Este, Piazza Trento, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Villa d’Este Palace
Villa d’Este palace. | Photo: Monica Galentino / Flickr.
The Villa d’Este was built in the 16th century under the direction of Cardinal Ippolito d’Este. Thanks to its advantageous location, the villa enjoys magnificent views of the surrounding natural scenery and the lush gardens of Villa d’Este. Inside, you can admire several restored rooms, preserved in their original state.
The decoration and details in the rooms make a great impression. Among the most historically important rooms, four rooms stand out: Hunt, Glory, Noah, and First Tiburtine. Each room is decorated with works of art pleasing to the eye. Passing through the halls, you feel as if you are plunged into a world of different legends and stories, depicted in all colors and details.
Address: Villa d’Este, Piazza Trento, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Via delle Cascatelle
The waterfall of the Villa Gregoriana.| Photo: Andrey Isakov / Flickr.
In Tivoli, whose attractions are related to history, there is an unusually beautiful street of Waterfalls – Via delle Cascatelle. It runs through a lush park, giving vacationers a chance to see the magnificent waterfalls to the north of the city.
If you walk from the Gregorian Villa toward Via Quintilio Varo, you can see both the waterfalls and the city of Tivoli. The path winds in a snake among the trees of the picturesque forest. It’s a great place to walk in warm, sunny weather.
If you want to see the waterfalls from above, you should take the trail that runs from Quintilio Varo Street. The trail will take you to the beginning of the waterfalls where you can admire the cascades of water and hear the deafening sound of water splashing.
Address: Grande Cascata di Tivoli, Via Quintilio Varo, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Rocca Pia Fortress
Fortress of Rocca Pia | Photo: wikimedia.
Rocca Pia is an ancient medieval fortress built in the 15th century. This magnificent structure was built during the conflict between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines (political currents in Italy). The citadel was erected to strengthen the defense of Tivoli.
What makes the fortress particularly interesting is its unusual symmetrical layout and the good condition of the building, despite its 500-year-old age. Four toothed watchtowers surround the rampart and other towers: the main and arched ones. Rocca Pia is inaccessible to visitors. The citadel remains an important status site in the center of the city.
Address: Rocca Pia, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Tivoli Cathedral | Photo: wikimedia
The cathedral is the main sacral structure of the city. It is also known as the Cathedral of San Lorenzo Martire. The Romanesque building, which now stands in Tivoli, was erected in the 12th century.
Although the outside of the temple is a modestly decorated structure, the solemnity of the structure is given by the bell tower and the white walls painted with a variety of images. The inner hall has a very different appearance. The main nave is decorated with amazingly beautiful decoration of the vault, arches and main altar. The interior features many different pictorial paintings and frescoes. Almost the entire space of the inner hall is richly decorated with exquisite decorations.
Address: Cathedral, Via del Duomo, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Gregorian Villa | Photo: wikimedia.
This complex, nestled in the valley of the River Agnène, is a beautiful romantic place to walk in the eastern Tivoli. The villa, built in the 19th century by order of Pope Gregory XVI, is surrounded by several picturesque gardens, grottoes and paths winding through the surroundings.
The most interesting objects of the complex are the two grottoes, the Sirens’ and Neptune’s, and the Grand Cascade. Being near the villa, you can get a good look at this waterfall in all its beauty and the artificial canal through which the waters of the Grand Cascade flow. When choosing what to see in Tivoli, be sure to visit Villa Gregoriana and its surroundings.
Address: Villa Gregoriana, Largo Sant’Angelo, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Church of Sant’Andrea
Church of Sant’Andrea.
Visitors to the city often pass by this underrated church, preferring a visit to Tivoli Cathedral. However, the Church of Sant’Andrea can surprise tourists with its interior decorations worthy of attention.
Upon entering the hall, you will find a true gem of architectural art hiding here. If you walk from Via Ponte Gregoriano to Via Sosia, you will eventually find the church located on Via Sant’Andrea. The façade of the building is unremarkable. It is decorated with several marble statues and inscriptions in Latin. The real treasure is hidden inside the temple.
Upon entering the church, you suddenly find a rich decoration. Especially interesting is the vault of the temple, painted with chess squares and decorated with a gold relief pattern. In addition, in the main aisle are towering marble columns, painted with a beautiful curved pattern. The main altar is decorated with bright frescoes. Be sure to visit the church, a little-known sacred treasure of the city.
Address: Parrocchia S. In S. Andrea, Via Sant’Andrea. Andrea, Via Sant’Andrea, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Temple of Vista
Temple of Vista.
The Temple of Vista dominates the west side of the Agnène valley. From here you have excellent views of the Gregorian Villa and the waterfalls of Tivoli. In fact, there are two temples in the neighborhood: Vesta and Sibylla. Both are remnants of Roman urban buildings.
The temple of Vista is an elegant circular building with many powerful columns. The Temple of Sibylla, on the other hand, is an ordinary square structure. At night the columns are illuminated, which creates a solemn atmosphere. Next to the Temple of Vista there is a restaurant with a summer terrace next to the walls of this majestic sacral building.
Address: Tempio Circolare (o o di Vesta), Piazza del Tempio di Vesta, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
As mentioned before, Tivoli is rich in antique historical buildings, built during the Roman era. At one time, the Emperor Hadrian lived here. From that period, quite a few buildings have remained. One of them is the Roman amphitheater. Just recently, this striking structure was reopened to the public.
Now you can walk among the ruins and see what was once the famous theater. The ancient structure is conveniently located near Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi and Rocco Pia. The amphitheater is worth the visit. Moreover, you can easily reach it from the city center. Here you can appreciate the well-preserved oval shape of the amphitheater, consider the walls and a few columns.
Address: Anfiteatro di Bleso, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi
Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. | Photo: wikimedia.
In the southern part of the city center you will find the huge Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. This is the place where you start to get to know Tivoli. There are several beautiful architectural structures here, including the church of Santa Maria Maggiore and a large arch connecting two small bodies of water in the center of the square. The arch is decorated with modernist style sculptures.
In addition, a picturesque square with the “Panoramica di Tivoli”, an observation point on the south side of the square, offers breathtaking views of sunsets and rural landscapes.
Address: Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Enjoy a meal at Osteria La Bricciola
Restaurant Osteria la Briciola.
Tivoli has a wide variety of top-notch restaurants. According to the rating, one of the best establishments in the area is Tiny Taverna (Osteria la Briciola). This gourmet restaurant is located just outside the city in the small village of Bivio San Polo on the slopes of Mount Catillo.
There you can get a taste of a variety of gourmet dishes, including seafood and traditional Italian pasta. In addition, the Tiny Tavern serves a dessert that will make your mouth water. The taste of each dish is simply divine and the view is enticing. Many of the restaurant’s guests note that the friendly staff is very attentive to detail. The decoration of Osteria La Briciola also makes a pleasant impression.
Address: Osteria La Briciola, Via Scuole Rurali, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Monte Catillo Nature Reserve
Monte Catillo Reserve.
Just northeast of Tivoli is “Monte Catillo”, a nature reserve located around the mountain of the same name. In 1997, this place was given the status of a protected area. The territory of the reserve is covered with a picturesque forest.
Here you can hike through the amazingly beautiful area and even climb to the top of the mountain, where there is a large steel cross. It can be seen from the farthest reaches of this area. Walking through the park, you can enjoy fantastic views of the surrounding landscape. Even the waterfalls in Tivoli can be seen from here.
Address: Riserva Naturale Monte Catillo, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Plauti Mausoleum and Lucano Bridge
Mausoleum of Plauti.
Among the sights of Tivoli, two special objects stand out. One is the ancient Mausoleum of Plauti. It is an important archaeological site and an example of elaborate tombstones erected by noble Roman families (think of the tomb of Cicilia Metella on the Appian Way leading to Rome). The powerful round tower is about 35 m high and stands on a square foundation.
Although the structure is covered with plants and is in a sorry state, it is an imposing architectural monument. Next to the mausoleum is the Lucano Bridge. The graceful seven-arch Roman bridge has been the main road from Rome to Tivoli for over two thousand years. It is a testimony to the Roman art of building was built in the first century B.C. As the main road the bridge stopped being used only in the middle of the XX century. A few years ago it was closed to traffic.
Address: Mausoleo dei plauzi, Via di Pontelucano, Tivoli, Rome, Italy.
Aqueduct “Anio Novus”
Anio Novus Aqueduct.
Construction of the Aqueduct “Anio Novus” began under Emperor Caligula in A.D. 38. “Anio Novus” was one of the four huge aqueducts of Rome (in Tivoli you can also see the remains of two other aqueducts: “Anio Vetus” and “Aqua Martia”).
The highest of these is considered to be the Anio Novus, an example of the flourishing art of Roman aqueduct construction. You can see several surviving parts of the aqueduct along the Via Empolitana. The best preserved parts are those by the Archi Bridge. This location is about two kilometers from the city center. The ruins of the aqueducts and the Mausoleum of Plauti were favorite sites of artists including Camille Corot and Thomas Cole.