Villa d'Este, in the town of Tivoli east of Rome, is a beautiful garden and palace complex that's listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The villa was built in 1560 and was the vision of Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (who narrowly failed to become a pope). The villa is famous for its magnificent garden of grottoes, fountains, nymphs and water sculpture. Cardinal d'Este died in 1572. By then the work on the garden and the interior painting of the villa was mostly complete.
Over the centuries the Villa d'Este and its gardens have been remodeled, left to decay, renovated, bombed (during World War II) and finally put into the hands of the Italian government, which opened the complex to the public.
The cardinal also breathed new life into the Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Villa), the extensive residence of Emperor Hadrian dating from the 2nd century AD.
Reservations are essentially required to visit Villa d'Este. See the Tours & Tickets tab for options. Tivoli can be reached by train from Rome on the Roma-Pescara line, (station Tivoli), or by bus from Ponte Mammolo metro station, busline Cotral Roma-Tivoli, bus station in Tivoli is Largo Naziano Unite.