Open images in Luna Commons
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Historical Documentation
Montaigne,Travel Journal
James, "Other Roman Neighborhoods"

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Villa d’Este

Dates: 1560–1675
Patron: Ippolito D’Este II, 1509–1572
Designer: Pirro Ligorio, 1500–1583
Location: Europe — Italy — Lazio — Tivoli

The Villa d’Este lies on the western slope of the town of Tivoli with southeastern views towards Rome, which lies twenty miles distant, and northwestern views toward the Sabine Hills. His papal ambitions thwarted, the Cardinal Ipplito d’Este (1509–17) undertook the renovation of the existing palace and the construction of the gardens between 1560 and 1575 working with the architect and archeologist Pirro Ligorio (c. 1500–83). The design of this Renaissance villa was influenced by nearby Hadrian’s Villa, where Ligorio had been involved in the excavation, as well as the terraces of the Temple of Fortuna at Praeneste. The Villa d’Este is best known for its fountains and lavish water displays fed by an aqueduct from the distant Monte Sant’Angelo and a conduit diverting water from the nearby River Aniene. During its heyday the villa was visited and described by the writer Michel de Montaigne (1533–92). By the eighteenth century the grounds and structures had fallen into disrepair, making it a perfect subject for the likes of Hubert Robert (1733–1808) and Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) whose romanticized images of the villa and its gardens helped to shape the enduring image of the villa.

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