Reviewed by An ItalyXP customer from
The Fantastic Mr. Fabio!
What an enriching tour this was: my thanks to our extremely knowledgeable and friendly guide, Mr. Fabio! He is excellent on the subject of art and architectural history. He also had a unique, gentle way of talking to each tourist about where they were from and customizing his commentary accordingly.
The introduction to Roman architecture began as soon as we sat on the bus, with Mr. Fabio pointing out important remaining Roman structures. Tivoli is about 45 minutes away. Hadrian’s Villa is a complex built by the well-travelled Roman emperor Hadrian (who also constructed the Pantheon and Castel Sant Angelo). Mr. Fabio took us on a 90 minute walking tour through the main sites including the poecile, the three-semicircular dining rooms, the cento camerelle, the great baths, the canopus, the praetorium and the winter palace. In each site, he pointed out the function of the various structures, the architectural attributes and remains and showed and described before and after pictures. Because we did this tour BEFORE we explored ruins in Rome, we were able to appreciate ancient Roman architecture that much more, because we did this tour.
Villa d’Este is an example of early Renaissance gardens, and inspired garden design throughout Europe. It is truly spectacular and a must-see. We were given about an hour and fifteen minutes here. Mr. Fabio took us through the main rooms of the villa and pointed out the most notable works. Then he gave us a map and led us down to the first level of the gardens, at the Oval Fountain, from where we were free to explore on our own. The garden is terraced, and you can choose to climb down to all levels or see the gardens from above. We chose the latter, because we felt we would not be able to make it back up to the bus in time otherwise – and because you can pretty much soak in the magnificence of the gardens from one or two levels! If you want however, you could go down and see the Neptune fountain and the fountain of the Organ, which plays a tune at 12:30 p.m.
On the ride back, the guide and driver graciously talked to tourists about what they wanted to do next, and dropped each tourist to the closest landmark. We reached Rome by 1:30 p.m.
I have read some reviews complaining about insufficient time in each place. I disagree with these reviews. Of course, one could well spend half a day exploring Hadrian’s Villa and another half leisurely exploring the gardens. But if you want to do so, take a full day tour. I would assume those taking the half day tour are doing so due to time constraints. This tour gives you all you need to appreciate the splendor of an ancient Roman villa, and the magnificence of a Renaissance terraced garden. Did we see every building and fountain? No. Would we have liked to? Sure. But then we would have to spare at least a full day to do so. We were very happy with the content and timing of this trip, and recommend this highly.
Reviewed by An ItalyXP customer from
a very informative tour guide, who made the place come alive and our trip so memorable, would use them again
Reviewed by Jean L. from
Simply breathtaking as we wandered into past centuries !
I truly enjoyed walking into such historical sites ! Hadrian's Villa was really overwhelming in scope . I just couldn't believe the extent to which this private retreat had been developed . The model layout places everything into proper perspective as if we were getting a bird's eye view . History unfolds before your very eyes ! The Villa d'Este was beyond my expectations ! Beautiful fountains and landscaping on this hillside was a sight to behold ! I kept taking many photos to bring back with me . Flowers in bloom all around made it spectacular . You must experience this tour for yourself and you will be overwhelmed with all the superb gardens , statues and flowing fountains . Not to be missed when you're touring Rome and surrounding areas !
Reviewed by Rebecca N from Australia
Hadrian's Villa & Villa d'Este, Tivoli
Our tour was amazing! Our guide, Serena, an archaeologist with a PhD, was lovely, very friendly, incredibly knowledgeable & totally in tune with our group! Although we booked the tour to see Hadrian's Villa, the tour of the Villa d'Este was mindblowing & I would never have even know about it without this tour! Definitely the best way to see both of these sites & all in one day! Highly recommended company & tour guide! :-)