Villa d’Este

The Villa d’Este is one of Italy’s most famous and impressive properties. Located just east of Rome in the town of Tivoli, this 16th-century villa was built in the 1550s for Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, for whom the property was named. While the villa itself is beautiful and breathtaking, the true gem of the Villa d’Este is its lavish gardens; these gardens and their role in historic garden design are largely responsible for the property’s current status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Gardens’ Creation

The gardens at the Villa d’Este were designed by Pirro Ligorio, who created the property’s 51 fountains with the help of Tommaso Chiruchi and Claude Venard. Prior to his work at the Villa d’Este, Chiruchi had played a part in the design and construction of the Villa Lante fountains, while Venard was a French manufacturer of hydraulic organs. Together, Ligorio, Chiruchi, and Venard created a garden full of water features that was rivaled by few existing properties and copied in many subsequent garden designs throughout the European continent.

The Gardens’ Water Features

Villa d’Este’s fountains and water features include a grand total of 398 spouts, 364 jets, and 64 waterfalls. The fountains are fed by over 2,800 feet of canals and channels, which provide water solely through gravity without the assistance of pumps. Today, the gardens’ fountains and features are supplied by the Aniene River, which has been partially diverted through the town. Among the named fountains featured in this beautiful garden are the Oval Fountain, the Hundred Fountains, the Fountain of Rometta, the Fountain of the Dragons, and the Fountain of the Organ.

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