Just 25 miles from Rome perched high on a hill is the ancient town of Tivoli, home to two UNESCO-listed sites — Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este. Tivoli has been the retreat for the fabulously wealthy since ancient Roman times, when it was then called Tibur. During the Renaissance it was a popular location for the rich and powerful to build expansive (and expensive) villas and magnificent gardens.
Roman emperors and senators, Catholic popes and cardinals, and affluent Romans of all eras chose Tivoli for their vacation homes and gardens. The name "Tivoli" is so synonymous with luxury, lush gardens, and extravagance that the name has been used for gardens and amusement parks throughout Europe, even in Japan!
Modern-day Tivoli was heavily bombed in World War II, and while it's still lovely, the town itself is not the real reason to visit. What attracts visitors to Tivoli are the ancient and Renaissance villas, fountains, gardens, and temples scattered about the hill of the city.
Our usual advice applies to Tivoli as well — the best way to see the sights and sites is by booking a tour that takes you there and back from Rome. You're not in Italy for that long, why not let someone else do the planning work for you? Here are the two top Tivoli tours from Rome —
We like this half-day tour because it gets you to and from Tivoli and gives you the option of morning or afternoon departures. At Tivoli you revel in the exquisite holiday home of Emperor Hadrian, Villa Adriana, built in the 2nd century AD. Explore the thermal baths, temples, palaces, libraries, and theatres.
Next up is the showstopping Villa d'Este, built at the height of the Renaissance for Cardinal d'Este. You're going to love wandering the rambling gardens, nymphs, grottoes and fountains, while learning about the cardinal's opulent lifestyle from your expert guide.
We loved this tour. I booked it to see Hadrian's Villa, but I fell in love with Villa d'Este and Tivoli instead!! My only complaint was not having enough time in Tivoli as it was easily the most beautiful place I've ever been in my life. I could have spent a day there easily. The fountains and gardens were stunningly beautiful. We also loved Hadrian's Villa – it was a marvel. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and patient. We also had time to break off from the group and explore the gardens. I would go back in a heartbeat."
– 5-Star Review
We know you would love the previous tour, and we also know that once you arrive, you'll wish you were spending more time in Tivoli. That's why we've saved the best for last. This full-day our from Rome provides you with lots of time to immerse in the glory and history of the best of Tivoli.
With your knowledgeable guide you'll stroll among the villas, the gardens, and all those fountains (500 of them!) while learning the interesting story behind each one.
This was an amazing tour. Made even better by our wonderful guide, who brought the whole story of Hadrian's Villa alive and was very informative and great fun. Villa d'Este was beautiful and again our great guide gave us plenty of information. I would have no hesitation in recommending this tour as a must-do if you are going to Rome."
– 5-Star Review