16 December 2017

2016 ITALY Tivoli 22 - Villa Adriana, Imperial Palace

While traveling just a hop and a skip to our next destination, we saw a little girl heading to her confirmation, I expect, and three "gladiators" off to their jobs. Nothing unusual about that!! After all, we are in Roma.

Villa Adriana was our stop, a property as big as Pompeii. You've heard me mention Hadrian before--ruled Rome from 117 to 138, builder of Hadrian's Wall marking the northern limits of Britannia, built the Pantheon, etc, etc.

He chose the Tivoli location for his imperial palace. It was near enough to the capital city (it is said you could see the torch lights of Rome at night from here), but far enough to avoid a constant contentious relationship with the Roman Senate.

This property lies near the foot of the Tiburtine Hills and extends over about 250 acres (100 hectares). This large archaeological complex was designed by Hadrian in the 2nd century and designated a Unesco world heritage site in 1999. This "city" displays influences from Greece, Egypt, and Rome. 

Architectural remnants include baths, temples, barracks, Greek theatre, maritime theatre, gardens, hospital, education center, fountains, philosopher's hall, casino, trapezium (closest definition I could find was something to do with a shower), and nymphaeums. A nymphaeum is defined as a monument or natural grotto set aside for habitation by local nymphs (female maidens of lower deity ranking). Not what I imagined and glad of it.

We had a bit of a walk from the van to the welcome center. It was lovely though, with olive trees, Italian cypress, and an ancient man-made pond teeming with an army of dinner plate sized turtles.

At the welcome center there was a scale model of the recovered area of the large complex and lots of information about the tour we were about to take. We would see only about 40 acres with about 30 reclaimed buildings.

We entered through a long, thick, tall outer wall. It was obviously built for protection of the palace and grounds. Our guide said the unusual brick pattern and tufa (or "cement") here helped to date the property's construction.

Some of the buildings pointed out were:
   - The Vestibule, connecting the great and small baths.
   - The Canopus, a long canal lined by carved stone columns of mostly draped women, a few men, and at least one crocodile. (Romans seem to have a fascination with this Egyptian "oddity"). This area was particularly interesting and beautiful.

Check the scale of the people compared to the structures throughout these photos. Everything here was of gargantuan proportion.

Viewing the "half dome" from the opposite end of the pool. Check out the person in the middle of the photo to see how large this pool is.
   - The Maritime theatre, a circular portico which contained a pool representing the sea.
   - Below is one end of the Pecile. A HUGE indoor-outdoor leisure area. In the center had been a pool and spacious outdoor walking space. It was surrounded by a covered portico used for protected panoramic strolls (although not covered now). It was attached to the "hundred-chambers," quarters used by the serving class. The length of the enclosed area was 465 yards (425 meters).

   - The great and small baths. Here endless days would be spent on "wellness." 
There were more rooms under the pools, where servants kept fires or furnaces lit to keep the baths warm and water hot. Other rooms, such as the cold water frigidarium, had separated layers of floor and walls to keep them cool in warm weather. A sauna was included. The opening at top could be opened and closed.

- The Greek theatre, a small court theatre. This may be it.
   - The Greek and Latin libraries.
   - I think these were the guards barracks.

Hadrian's space consisted of two levels. The top level was extravagant, quiet, and welcoming. These were the emperor's personal and business quarters. The lower level was hectic and buzzing with the work of slaves and servants to accommodate the royal lifestyle.

I don't have more identifiable photos of this area. Pretty much photoed and noted out at this point in a long day. Here are a few more though, so you get the idea of what we saw.

An aside: Keep in mind all the walls of all the buildings were originally covered in beautiful marble and other valuable building materials. Many scavengers (including the Cardinal d'Este for his own villa where we had visited earlier this day), later robbed the estate of that marble, as well as statues, granite columns, mosaic tile, and more. A form of recycling in the ancient days, I guess.

Next stop, the hotel. Got "home" about 18:00. Thank goodness. Bushed. Stacey said we walked at least 10,800 steps today, many of them on uneven bare ground, cobblestones, and up or down stairs.

Dinner was on our own. Chef John suggested some trattorias and gelato places, but we were pooped. We just nibbled on munchies we had gathered along the way, watched a little TV, journaled, and went to bed early. 

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.