A former teacher and charity worker from the North East of England, I love people and places and like to try out new experiences wherever possible. Capturing that 'perfect pic' is all part of the pleasure. Access issues are a particular interest.
Published September 7th 2013
Simply 'Be' at Tivoli Fountains
Water is the essence of life, like the air that we breathe and the land that we walk upon, Its life giving properties are prized and guarded by every living creature that that depends upon it. So who can blame us mere humans for wanting to own it in some way? Over millennia we've sought to claim it and contain it and no more so than when water becomes an art form.
The beauty and tranquillity of the world's water gardens are a joy for all to behold and none more so than the Tivoli Fountains and Gardens in the province of Lazio just outside Rome.
Nestled among the so called 'seven hills' surrounding the city of Rome is the town of Tivoli, where the cool Apennine mountains form a range that runs the length of the Italian peninsular and provides crystal clear water from its mountain springs and streams. Wealthy Roman families built villas here and spent much of their leisure time in the beautiful countryside – the urge to escape the city goes back a long way.
Jump forward to the next millennia where cultivating beautiful gardens and being in command of water supplies had become a work of art in its own right during the period of the Italian Renaissance, which created fabulous works of art over a period of two to three hundred years from the 14th century onwards.
And this is where the Villa D'Este (also known as the Tivoli Fountains) became the blueprint for fabulous water gardens the world over, including those at the entrance to the White House.
Who wouldn't be fascinated by fountains and waterfalls of all shapes and sizes cascading down rock formations and magnificent buildings as the sun beats down on a perfect day?
While we were there, visitors to the gardens ambled among marble statuettes with an air of European elegance while absorbing the atmosphere of this beautiful mastery of nature's most wonderful element.
The roar of the water as hundreds of individual nozzles gushed gallons of crystal clear water into gullies transferring the water from whence it came to be re-used time and again was the backdrop to the entrancing scene before us as huge jets of water shot high into the air while cool pools surrounded by tall poplars provided a breathtaking spectacle.
Whether you just want to enjoy the garden or marvel at the feat of engineering that created this wonder, you will be spellbound by the whole experience.
This place is about a sense of 'being', the Italian 'essere' which encapsulates the national characteristics of the Italian people if ever it could be exhibited. It was hedonistic and harmonious all at the same time, bringing life to a landscape that could easily have been arid.
The splendid palazzos and marble creations are truly amazing expressions of an outstanding age of artistic creativity and architecture.
Each corner you turned there was something more interesting and exotic than the last, with grandiose buildings leaving you in no doubt as to the power and wealth of the family that built this magnificent place.
The villa was a gift from Pope Alexander VI to his grandson, Cardinal Ippolito D'Este, the son of Lucrezia Borgia and the gardens become a continuation of the magnificent palazzo that came with the land. We travelled there as part of a tour with Cosmos in the early 'noughties' and thus began my love affair with Italy. I'm fortunate to have been to some really beautiful places in my time on this earth but the Tivoli Fountains are still in my soul.
As we walked around whispering 'wow' at every turn we laughed as my husband joked that this is what we'd have in our garden. I asked my hubby to say that to the camera as I recorded our delightful day out. He figured that we could get the bits at our local garden centre but then reckoned we'd need a couple of bags of cement. If only.
The gardens have inspired many people including artists, poets and film makers and with imagines of Audrey Hepburn in the classic 1953 film 'Roman Holiday' where she co-starred with Gregory Peck and the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra crooning 'Three Coins in the Fountain' I set to make my own little movie when we returned home. I may have got my movies mixed up but I've just watched it again and it is as magical now as it was all those years ago.