Villa d'Este information
In Tivoli's hilltop centre, the steeply terraced grounds of Villa d'Este are a superlative example of a Renaissance garden, complete with monumental fountains, elegant tree-lined avenues and landscaped grottoes. The villa, originally a Benedictine convent, was converted into a luxury retreat by Lucrezia Borgia's son, Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, in the late 16th century. It later provided inspiration for composer Franz Liszt who stayed here between 1865 and 1886 and immortalised it in his 1877 piano composition The Fountains of the Villa d'Este .
Before heading out to the gardens, take time to admire the villa's rich mannerist frescoes. Outside, the manicured gardens feature water-spouting gargoyles and shady lanes flanked by lofty cypresses and extravagant fountains, all powered by gravity alone. Look out for the Bernini-designed Fountain of the Organ , which uses water pressure to play music through a concealed organ, and the 130m-long Avenue of the Hundred Fountains .