The elaborate gardens on the d'Este estate are something to behold. It became a Unesco site in 2001. An underground canal harnessing the waters of the Anio River was constructed beneath the town of Tivoli around 1565. The natural flow of gravity supplies water to various levels of grottoes, fountains, and ponds.
This grotto is one of the first water features we saw. From this simple example it became rapidly more wonderful.
A colorful mosaic fountain.
Lots of intricate and interesting sculpture. From simple and lovely ....
... to ornate and strange. Here is the profile of a busty, winged, hooved, tailed animal-lady.
There were lots of gradual ramps and staircases scattered throughout the property. This mosaic slope was a bit wet. Mike slipped and took a slow slide onto his butt. Our travel mates helped him up and did a quick review of any damage. There was none, other than a little hurt pride.
Staircases were grandly decorated and long. Here you get an idea of the levels of the garden. This staircase extended well beyond your view here.
The Oval Fountain. The lovely "3D" tile work I showed on the previous blog page was repeated here with gold fleur-de-lys and white eagles trimming the fountain at bottom.
The Hundred Fountains led the way from the Oval Fountain to the Fountain of Rometta. Actually, there are nearly 300 spouts along three different parallel "canals" like this one. This was one of my favorite areas. So peaceful walking along with a bit of misty spray in the hot air.
The Fountain of Rometta symbolizes arrival at the gates of Roma. Behind to the left was a miniature carving / sculpture of the City of Roma.
Fountain of Proserpina (goddess of fertility). Its original name was Fountain of Emperors. It was intended that four emperors with nearby villas (Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Trajan, and Hadrian) would be represented. The current incarnation shows Pluto kidnapping Proserpina. Pluto still stands, but I guess Proserpina actually got kidnapped as her statue is missing. (She is not the statue in the lower left.)
Fountain of the Owl. This one is more formal and is framed with gorgeous decor, including the coat of arms of the d'Este family and topped with their white eagle symbol. This was also an ingenious mechanical, musical automaton installed in 1566 by Frenchman Luc Leclerc.
Two birds would sing individual songs, the owl would appear, and the birds would stop singing (being "afraid" of the owl). And repeat. Music was produced by air and water flowing through pipes.
A shot looking up at the Fountain of the Organ. This is one of the star attractions of the garden. It also had a water organ installed in 1571 by Leclerc. When Pope Gregory XII visited in 1572 he demanded to inspect behind the scenes to verify there was no human actually making the lovely music.
Originally there were 22 pipes in this organ. After a number of restorations and enhancements over the centuries, it now has 144 air and water pipes and can play four pieces of late Renaissance music for over four minutes.
Flowing beneath the Fountain of the Organ, is the waterfall Fountain of Neptune.
Looking down from the Fountain of the Organ and over the Fountain of Neptune, you see the fish ponds.These are close-ups of the Fountain of the Organ with Egyptian like guards and d'Este white eagle at top. This was admired and elements copied by all of Europe.
This is our happy group. Chef John (and wife Stacey) at left.
These gardens are one of the highlights of this trip for me. I am not particularly a swimmer (although I can stay afloat), but I am a water baby--entertained and in awe of all things water. All in all there are 51 fountains, 398 spouts, 364 water jets, 64 waterfalls, 220 basins, and over half a mile of canals, cascades, and channels. Just not to be missed.
You can see more photos and learn many more details at: