Vilnius: Interesting places and monuments in the city known as “Little Rome

Roads from Rome, Roads to Rome

Traditionally, all our travels are not limited to the capital of the country: we necessarily try to see interesting places in the provinces. Our regular readers know that in Portugal, in addition to Lisbon, we visited Sintra and Porto, in France we went from Paris to Rouen, in Germany – to Hamburg, and in the Czech Republic – to Cesky Krumlov.

Italy wasn’t an exception: here wonderful addition to our Roman winter vacations was a trip to Tivoli, 24 km to the north-east of Rome.

Home page of the Italian railroads website

The best way to get to Tivoli is by train. Going to the Italian Railways website www.trenitalia.com and entering departure and destination points, we see that most morning trains to Tivoli leave from the Roma Tiburtina station . It is Rome’s second largest station (after Termini) in the northeastern part of the city and serves both traditional regional routes as well as the Milan-Naples high-speed rail line. The only problem – most tourists, like us, prefer to stop near Termini, so it’s more convenient to take the train there.

Train timetable to Tivoli

Looking at the schedule (marked trains from Termini station): 5.35 is a little early, 13.10 is late, but 7.15 and especially 8.57 is just right. A one-way ticket costs 2.60 euros.

Train ticket vending machines

Bought tickets must be stamped in the device

The trip to Tivoli by train from Rome to Avezzano takes less than an hour.

You can get train tickets from the ticket machines or, if you find it difficult, in “manual mode” at the newsstand at the train station. During the trip, watch out for stops, because all trains – passing (Rome – Avezzano, Rome – Pescara), and do not make the mistake of getting off prematurely at the station Bagni Di Tivoli – you do not need it.

Tivoli station

Return train schedule to Rome

The first thing we advise you to do when you arrive at Tivoli station is to check the return train schedule to Rome. Note the sign Non circola nei giorni festivi – it means “does not run on weekends”. For example, if you came to Tivoli on Sunday, you can not go back to Rome by train departing at 17.21. Plan accordingly your stay in the city.

The “Terrible Chasm” of the River Aniene

Tivoli stands on the river Anio (other names are Aniene, Teverone), the left tributary of the Tiber, 110 km long. For many centuries, the river has brought a lot of trouble to the Roman city of Tibur (founded, according to tradition, in the XIII century BC), and then to its “successor” – the city of Tivoli. Here is what was said about it in the “Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron:

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At the southern end of the city of Tivoli, where on a ledge of rock are the ruins of the round temple of Vesta, Anio once thundered down into a terrible cleft, and then, after another fall, into the grotto of Neptune. Since, however, during floods, the river would often tear away part of its bank and threaten to undermine the rock on which the temple stood, Leo XII ordered it to be diverted under Monte Catillo by means of a 271-metre long canal, completed in 1835.

The tunnels built under the city allowed the water to drain away from the residential part of the city, but even now the view of the “terrible cleft” (or, as it is called, “Valley of Hell”) is quite impressive. To get into town, when you get off at the station, you must cross the canyon by one of the bridges – the light pedestrian Ponte della Pace (directly on the train from Rome) or the more solid automobile Ponte Gregoriano, which runs along the causeway (to which you must follow, as if “returning” to the direction of Rome).

Here, perhaps, it’s time to tell you what the town of Tivoli is actually famous for. Thousands of tourists come here to see three villas: Villa Gregoriana, Villa d’Este and Villa Hadrian.

The Gregorian Villa is close to the dam we mentioned, and if it were summer, we would head straight to it. But in winter this landscape park is closed to tourists for safety reasons – there is a significant drop in elevation, and the steps can be slippery. Villa is interesting “romantic garden” with waterfalls, grottoes, precipices – all this was created in 1832 – 1835, when the architect Clemente Folchi by order of Pope Gregory XVI constructed underground galleries that changed the course of the river Aniene.

Let’s say at once – we have not been to the villa, from where Emperor Hadrian ruled the Roman Empire at the end of his life. Villa Hadrian is 4 km from Tivoli, it can be reached by bus number 4, which goes from the central square of the city – and, as we were told, not very often. Given this, as well as the short daylight hours and the large area of the villa (although today only a fifth of the original area of as much as 300 hectares has been preserved), we decided to leave our visit to Villa Hadrian’s for the next time.

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All roads lead to Rome, and in Tivoli also to Villa d’Este

The streets in Tivoli are vacuumed.

The entrance to Villa d’Este.

Our main destination in Tivoli was the Villa d’Este, a unique Renaissance monument that includes a palace and an adjoining garden. Finding the villa is easy – there are signs all over town. The entrance fee is 8 euros, but we got lucky: on the first Sunday of the month the villa is free.

In the XVI century the city belonged to the House D’Este, one of the oldest princely families of Italy, which ruled Ferrara and Modena for more than five centuries. In 1549, Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este (son of Lucrezia Borgia), appointed by Pope Julius III as governor of Tivoli, commissioned the artist and architect Pirro Ligorio to build a luxurious villa, whose decoration was meant to emphasize its high status as a seat of culture and meeting place for writers, poets and musicians. The numerous fountains (there are about five hundred of them in the park), fed by the waters of the Aniene river, were a real miracle of hydraulic engineering for the 16th century.

The Cardinal’s apartments, created especially for Hippolyte II, contain beautiful frescoes and stucco.

A magnificent park descends from the palace on the slopes of a hill; its area is about 3.5 hectares, the difference in relief is 35 meters.

Upper terrace of the palace

Each successive level has new platforms and fountains.

The view from the top of the fountain La Rometta, symbolically representing the seven hills of the Eternal City and its landmarks, such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon

At the center of the fountain is a sculpture symbolizing Rome.

The stylized boat of La Rometta Fountain symbolizes the island of Tiburtina on the Tiber River

The “Alley of a Hundred Fountains” runs along the park for 150 meters, from La Rometta Fountain to the Oval Fountain.

Numerous fan-like water jets keep the park cool even on the hottest days

Cascades of babbling water at every turn

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The majestic Neptune Fountain, designed by Bernini in 1661, was almost completely lost and rebuilt in 1927.

The fountains and ponds of the Villa d’Este are said to have made a lasting impression on Peter the Great.

The Grand Cascade and the Grand Palace at Peterhof. In our country it would probably be richer.

Many guidebooks say that the Russian Emperor Peter I was so impressed by the Villa d’Este that after his visit here he planned the construction of Peterhof. However, historians do not confirm not only Peter’s visit to Tivoli, but also his visit to Italy itself. The great embassy of 1698, which included the tsar, went to Austria, Saxony, Brandenburg, Holland, England, Venice and the pope. But from England the embassy returned to Holland, then visited Vienna, but never reached Venice. In his later trips abroad Peter visited Karlsbad (now Karlovy Vary) for treatment, but he never went to Italy.

The Organ Fountain, above the Neptune Fountain, is equipped with pipes that sound when water flows through them. Unfortunately, you can’t hear it in the wintertime.

The dragon fountain, thanks to its central location, is perceived as the heart of the park. There is a legend that it was built during one night in September 1572 as a pleasant surprise for Pope Gregory XIII, who visited the villa.

The fountain del Bicchierone, in the form of a shot glass standing at the bottom of a large shell, was built almost a century after the completion of the main part of the villa. Its author is Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the famous Baroque sculptor.

The Oval Fountain or the Sibyl Fountain (after the sculpture of the prophetess Sibyl of Tiburtina, standing above it)

The fountain of Diana of Ephesus, goddess of fertility

Blueprint of Villa d’Este

The last owner of Villa d’Este before the First World War was Archduke Franz Ferdinand. With the outbreak of war, the villa passed into state ownership. Today, the Villa d’Este is one of the finest gardens of the Renaissance period and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. In the 1920s and immediately after the Second World War (during which the villa was bombed) an extensive restoration was carried out and in 2007 it won the “Most beautiful park in Europe” award.

Viewpoint

The outskirts of Tivoli

What else can you see in Tivoli besides the three famous villas? Not far from the entrance to Villa d’Este is Piazza Garibaldi, which you can walk along to the observation deck. From here you have a magnificent view of the surroundings of Tivoli – green fields, residential neighborhoods and picturesque ruins.

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On the way back to the station you can admire the narrow medieval streets. But do not waste time looking for and seeing the main city cathedral – in contrast to other Italian cities, here Duomo is not only not the center of the historic area, but simply closed to the public. However, we hope that even without this you will have a lot of bright impressions from your trip to Tivoli.

Vilnius: Interesting places and monuments in the city known as “Little Rome

Sights around Avignon

Around Avignon you can spend a month riding in different directions and admire the old villages, many of which are among the most beautiful villages in France. Here you will find and traditional village perche, and monuments of antiquity, and nature reserves, and magnificent old bridges, and delicious cuisine of Provence.

Near Avignon there are two interesting monasteries:

    – One of the most photographed lavender fields in Provence . – With beautifully painted churches.

Abbaye de Sénanque

Attractions and towns around Avignon:

Given are kilometers and travel time for the trip by car (as transport accessibility to small villages and monasteries is a big problem here).

West of Avignon:

  • Villeneuve-lès-Avignon – 2.9 km, 7 minutes
  • Pont du Gard – 26 km, 28 min – 39 km, 43 min – 49 km, 54 min

Southwest of Avignon:

    – 12.3 km, 26 min – 20 km, 24 min – 23.7 km, 25 min – 25 km, 28 min – 38 km, 48 min – 59 km, 53 min – 78 km, 1:09

South of Avignon:

    – 59 km, 53 min * – among the most beautiful villages in France – 59 km, 53 min

Southeast of Avignon:

    – 36 km, 34 min – among the most beautiful villages in France – 44 km, 47 min * – among the most beautiful villages in France – 47 km, 41 min – 51 km, 51 min
  • Bonnieux* – among the most beautiful villages in France – 55 km, 53 min * – among the most beautiful villages in France – 69 km, 58 min * – among the most beautiful villages in France – 78 km, 1:06 – 59 km, 45 min – 89 km, 1:05
  • Marseille – 103 km, 1:11

East of Avignon:

    – 33 km, 39 min – 36 km, 44 min * – of the most beautiful villages in France – 38 km, 41 min * – of the most beautiful villages in France – 48 km, 52 min – 48 km, 56 min * – of the most beautiful villages in France – 54 km, 57 min – 62 km, 62 min – 121 km, 94 min – 133 km, 100 min
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North and northeast of Avignon:

    – 17 km, 24 min.
  • Carpentras – 26 km, 30 min – 33 km, 30 min * – of the most beautiful villages in France – 43 km, 47 min – 53 km, 53 min – 75 km, 64 min * – of the most beautiful villages in France – 71 km, 63 min

The main sights around Avignon:

1. le Pont du Gard

Le Pont du Gard : This majestic Roman aqueduct on three levels is one of the greatest and best preserved sites of Roman architecture in France.

Pont du Gard - Aqueduct, France

2. Les Baux de Provence

Les Baux de Provence : one of the most beautiful villages in France, perched on a steep cliff above Arles with a breathtaking panorama. And then there’s the well-preserved medieval fort.

Les Baux-de-Provence - sights, description and map of the city. What to see in Les Baux-de-Provence, city guide. Parking lots, etc.

3. Gordes

Gordes is a pretty village nestled on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Luberon mountains, and is one of the most beautiful villages in France. The narrow rocky streets and the stunning castle tell a thousand legends hidden behind the walls of the village.

Gordes-, Provence, France

4. Roussillon

Roussillon: on the list of the most beautiful villages in France, Roussillon is nestled opposite the Luberon mountains. It boasts magnificent red rocks and ochre quarries.

Rousillon, Provence, France

5. Fontaine de Vaucluse

Fontaine de Vaucluse: situated in a valley at the foot of Mount Vaucluse, surrounded by huge rocks, this village owes its fame to its springs, the largest in France. They give birth to one of the most beautiful rivers of the department, the Sorgue.

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

6. Saint Remy de Provence

Saint Remy de Provence: In the middle of the Alpilles, this typical Provencal village, built on the site of a Roman town, has inspired many artists, among which was also Van Gogh.

St Remy de Provence

7. Arles

Arles: This city of 2500 years of history is also known as the “Little Rome of the Gauls”. It has several outstanding monuments from the Roman era, including the famous arena. Arles was also the first city that Van Gogh discovered, settling in southern France in search of the unique light that characterized the south.

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