Saturday, 25 May 2013

Fountains, and hiking, Italian style

After 2 failed attempts, we got up to Tivoli today. We were quite quick getting there, in part because Karen ran out from the metro and leapt aboard the bus without stopping. And without buying a ticket. Oops. Okay, the bus was in the station and about to leave (they run every 10 minutes, however). We thought you could buy tickets on the bus (we ran past a ticket office, however). They never check for tickets (except this bus had signs asking people to point out ticket violators). We mucked up.

Tivoli sits in the hills above Rome, and is known for the gardens and villas. We first headed into the most famous villa, Villa d'Este, known for its grandiose fountains. And they are indeed grandiose.
The one on top's a separate fountain with a water-powerd organ
Lots of them. Big and small.
Sorry about the raindrop 
The organ
I thought about posting movies of the organ playing. We shot three, and they're actually not bad. They're also huge. As in ginormous. As in the smallest is over 50 Mb, or the equivalent of posting 25 odd photos. Which would take me all night to load.
The fish ponds 
The fish ponds in the spray 
The Eagles 
He needs a kleenex 
The Fountain of the Leaking Boobs 
Not running, but just imagine 
Water rains down on the the tigers 
More tigers. Lots of tigers. All leaking 
Curtains of water 
The balustrade's leaking 
So's this one
The owner of this place liked water. There's at least 40 different fountains and water features, plus manicured gardens. Plus staircases -- lots of staircases -- and spectacular views.
Rome's in the distance (no tall buildings so you can't see it) 
Stairs and ramps 
Lots of stairs 
Lots and lots of stairs
Manicured hedgerows
Our second stop was Villa Gregoriana. For the record, it's not a villa. It's a spectacular chasm full of waterfalls and lush vegetation that is reminiscent of hiking on Maui (if Maui didn't divert all the water to grow sugar cane). Think hiking up waterfalls on the Hana coast, only with marble steps built by the Romans. Okay, it was actually a chasm known by the Romans but re-engineered to control flooding by a Pope in 1835 -- overlooked by two Roman temples.
They can't decide which is the Temple of Vestra or Sybil 
The path leads deep -- 120 m deep -- into the gorge, which contains an old Roman house.
Rooms and foundations 
Life in the cliff walls
There's a whacking huge 130 m waterfall, resulting from them tunnelling through the rock to divert the majority of the river that runs through town.
Just the top part
Just the bottom. The middle's missing
Getting to this overlook is "interesting".
An "uncomfortable walk"
 Down deeper in the chasm are several other big waterfalls, two of which are about 50 m each.
In the lush gorge
These appear through something called Neptune's Grotto.
From the other side
Up close
Actually, less then half the water comes out of the waterfall in the shot above. Most pours out of another grotto under the waterfall, which was tough to get a photo of.

To access this grotto and waterfall, the Romans bored a tunnel through the rock (before that, they apparently used a rope).
The tunnel 
What it looks like from the other side
All this water disappears into a hole in the ground (called the Mermaid Grotto) and emerge as another waterfall just out of sight.

The temples literally sit on the cliff's precipice.
No falling over 
Did I mention I like columns? 
Yep, columns 
Corinthian caps on them columns
Tivoli itself is a pretty little town sitting on a hillside, and nice respite from the bustle of Rome. The "villas" are the most popular bit, but there are others we didn't get to, such as Rocca Pia, a fortress built in 1416...
Very gothic 
Nice towers
...or the Roman Temple of the Tosse, kind of like a miniature Pantheon, built in the 4th century...
I like the hole in the ceiling
...or the Sanctuary of Hercules the Winner, circa 2nd Century. It was huge; the metal frame is what the front of it used to look like...
Note the amphitheatre on the left
...or the Villa of Hadrian, which is 4 km out of town at the bottom of the hill, but supposedly a superb site.

Next time. There's always a next time.

Tomorrow, the Vatican Museums are free, for it is the last Sunday of the month. Wonder what the crowd will be like?

And no, Tony, despite your fine recommendation I'm not going to race though to be the first in the Sistine Chapel. I've been in there 3 times already, and they don't allow photos at all these days.

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