Villa d’Este, Italy - The Traveller


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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Villa d’Este, Italy


Villa d’Este – Deep Influence on Garden Design in Europe

The Villa d’Este has a deep influence on the development of garden design all over Europe. With its palace and garden, it is one of the most amazing as well as broad illustrations of Renaissance most refined culture. The state-of-the-art design together with the architectural components in the garden namely the fountains, ornamental basins, etc. make this a unique specimen of Italian 16th century garden.

It is one of the first giardini delle meraviglie, an early model for the creation of European gardens. Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este had arrived in Tivoli on 9 September 1550, on obtaining the post of governor of the town and the official residence was assigned to him in Tivoli, part of the monastery of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which did not suit him.

He then decided to build an impressive villa with gardens and the designs were traditionally built, attributing to Pirro Ligorio. The serene ensemble of the palace and gardens forms an irregular quadrangular, covering a space of around 4.5 ha. The plan of the villa seems to be irregular since the architect was obliged to make use of certain parts of the earlier monastic building. Towards the garden area, the architecture of the palace seemed to be very simple.

Loggia of Palace Symbols the Longitudinal/Central Axis of Garden

A long main body of three storeys has been marked by bands rows of windows, together with side pavilions, scarcely jutting out. This unchanging portico is disturbed by an elegant loggia towards the middle with two levels and stair ramps that have been built by Raffaello da Firenze and Biasioto.

 Its lower level has been decorated with the Fountain of Leda while the main rooms of the villa have been arranged in rows on two floors which open on to the garden. The private apartment of the cardinal comprising of four rooms is located on the same level as the courtyard while the receptions rooms connected together towards the back by a long corridor known as the Manica Lunga, are on the lower level.

The garden tends to stretch over two steep slopes plunging downward from the palace to a flat terrace in the style of an amphitheater. The loggia of the palace symbols the longitudinal and central axis of the garden.

Fontana del Bicchierone – Design by Bernini

Five vital transversal axes tend to become the central axis from the fixed point of view developed by the villa as each of them terminate in one of the main garden fountains. The most amazing effect is by the big cascade flowing from a krater balanced in the center of the exedra where jets of water are activated when unsuspected people tend to walk under the arcades.

Behind the exedra is an artificial mountain having three alcoves holding statues of the Sibylla of Tibur along with her son Melicerte with the river divinities Erculaneo and Anio. Towards the west is its counterpart the Fountain of Rome which was built between 1567 -70. The Fountain of the Great Glass – Fontana del Bicchierone, was built as per a design by Bernini and added to the decoration of the central longitudinal axis during the 17th century wherein the fountain is in the shape of a notched chalice, from which great jet of water tends to fall into a conch shell.

During that period, the huge pergola towards the original entrance of the villas had also been replaced by the Rotunda of the Cypresses, which is a circular space adorned with four small fountains and circled by ancient cypress trees.

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