Thursday, May 20, 2010


There were very few rainy days while we were in Rome. The day we went to Tivoli and Hadrian's Villa it was overcast and misty. A perfect day to keep most tourists away!

The grounds of Hadrian's Villa covers an area about one third the size of Central Park, in other words it is vast.
The villa was the Emperor Hadrian's summer get away from the heat of Rome. Hadrian ruled the Roman Empire for 21 years from 117 Ad. until 138 AD.

Water was everywhere, from reflecting pools to fountains and bath. The villa was thought to have been sited here because of the access to water from the Roman aqueducts , it also happened to be land owned by his wife Sabina. To this day Rome has very pure drinking water.

The ruins are beautiful in their monumentality. They were once all faced with marble, mosaics or frescos.

James is to the right looking at the interior of the small baths.

The exterior of the large baths.
Service to the villa was supplied by 5000 servents. The servents used a series of underground passages to move themselves and supplies around the complex.

The Large Baths

The interior of the large baths. It must have been a remarkable sight when the mosaics and frescos adorned the walls, ceilings and floors.

The Canopus and Serapeum

The dining hall! Imagine waterfalls and hundreds of dinner guests .
This is possibly Hadrian's symbolic interpretation of the Mediterranean , the Canopus and the Serapeum.
Hadrian was very interested in Egypt and the design elements of the villa are a reflection of that.

A view down the pool looking toward where it is thought the Emperor sat and dined in a secure spot.

This is the group we are with from the American Academy. It seems like we were always looking up! The scale here is grand, and our guides John Pinto with Corey Brennan (center) made the villa come alive . They were able to convey the original grandeur and power of Hadrian and his villa.

The view the Emperor Hadrian saw while he was dining. Behind him was a massive waterfall that he could control.

The Pescheria, or fishing hole! Guests could fish for food or entertainment from the half circle cut outs along the sides .

Professor John Pinto, the leading expert on Hadrian's Villa. A man of great knowledge and energy!

A view of what is thought to be the main garden area. Again there are waterfalls and a small "river" running through the center of the formal garden. It appears that the garden was laid out in a geometric plan.

Another view of the garden shows rows of bases where columns may have sat.

The Naval Theatre
Finally, the hidden treasure. A small circular island surrounded by a moat. Theory holds that it was a lap pool for Hadrian. Again we hear about maintaining security of the the Emperor, the moat provided that element. This must have been truly beautiful.
Key words from this tour are; Hadrian, Sabina, Antinous, grandeur, power, order, security, columns, dining, detail, artistry, baths, and water, water and more water.

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