Tivoli - Villa d' Este 29 May

The breakfast room of the Hotel Serene has a grotto (complete with buffet) carved out of the soft tufa stone, sharing the same stunning view of the gorge and temple, but we were more interested in caffeine. The rain was beginning to look like a constant companion, so we bought cheap ponchos and dove into the water gardens of Villa d'Este.
Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este began the gardens in 1550, designed and constructed by Pirro Ligorio, who also oversaw the reconstructions of Hadrian's Villa. Some of Hadrian's nuttiness wore off on him, as the garden is filled with all sorts of oddities and surprises, such as a two-dimensional owl clock that scares away fake birds, an organ powered by water, and the twisty lady above. But the main act is the water channeled by the force of gravity down a steep site in service of 'giochi d'aqua' or water games, seen in water rills, jets, sprays and other moist nonsense.
Later in the afternoon, our friend Kara Wilbur (from the Miami Urban Program) joined us for another tour of the garden. A good time was had by all. Dinner was in another tufa grotto, overlooking the same gorgeous gorge, and the misadventures of many hours getting lost taking Kara back to Rome and trying to find my way back to Tivoli at 2:30 in the morning.

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