Hadrian’s Villa is one of the most well-preserved ancient Roman villas in the world. Expanding on a surface of 0,8 km², this archaeological site is a must-see if you are passionate about history. Or simply willing to know more about Roman culture. But is it easy to get to Hadrian’s Villa from Rome? In this guide, you will find all the information you need to plan the perfect day trip to Tivoli.
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Getting to Hadrian’s Villa from Rome
Tivoli is only 25 kilometers (bird flight) from Rome center. But in reality, it will take you a little more to get there. In fact, Hadrian’s Villa is on a hill 90 meters above sea level. While Tivoli is 220 meters above sea level.
Note: the Italian name of the location is Villa Adriana. You will find it on every panel and direction while getting there.
If you chose to rent a car, or you came to Italy with your car, you can easily get to Hadrian’s Villa from Rome by following these indications:
From Rome, take the road A24/E80. Follow it till the exit Tivoli. Continue on SP51a and after 2 kilometers turn on via Antonio Marziale. You should see Hadrian’s Villa indications also. Turn on the right on via Rosolina. At the next crossroad, Hadrian’s Villa parking is close on the right. It will take you about 45 minutes to arrive.
The address is: Largo Marguerite Yourcenar, 1, 00010 Tivoli RM, Italy.
When exploring il bel paese, renting a car is by far the best way to enjoy your trip. Why? It gives you complete autonomy on the itinerary! That’s why you should choose a service like rentalcars.com. Working with the biggest car rental companies in the industry, you will easily find the perfect car for you. In addition, they serve from Ciampino and Fiumicino Airports.
By public transport
Take the metro B line (blue) to Ponte Mammolo station. Once you are there, take the Cotral bus Roma – Tivoli via Prenestina. It will leave you directly to Hadrian’s Villa stop (Villa Adriana). It’s very close to the ticket office and Hadrian’s Villa shops. You can check the bus schedules on Cotral website, it’s only in Italian but you can type the above-mentioned stations in the form, where partenza stands for departure and arrivo for arrival.
A taxi from Rome center to Hadrian’s Villa will cost you between 45 and 55 €.
When it’s the best time to visit?
Hadrian’s Villa is very large. And the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site extends over 5 km². The whole area is huge! Even in the most touristy periods of the year, you will not be bothered exploring. On the contrary, pretty often you will find yourself wandering alone among the ruins. That’s magical!
Although there is one thing to consider: the unpaved terrain. When visiting on rainy days, the ground gets muddier. You may get dirt on your shoes or slip. For these reasons, you may want to avoid visiting in October/November, Italy’s rainiest months.
Exploring Hadrian’s Villa
When Hadrian became an emperor in 117 AD, he commanded the construction of a majestic Villa a few kilometers outside Rome. The complex was completed around the year 120, and became Hadrian’s retreat. After his death, the Villa was used for a few centuries until the decline of the Roman Imperium. After that it was abandoned and forgotten.
In the 16th century, while constructing his beautiful Villa in Tivoli, Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este ordered to take some of the remaining statues of Villa Adriana to decorate its own gardens. Since 1999 UNESCO added Hadrian’s Villa to the list of World Heritage Sites.
Excavations and archaeologists regularly bring to life pieces and items even in the present days. But even if you are on an archaeological site, there are a very few restrictions while exploring.
Hadrian’s Villa highlights
As a passionate about history, I could write for hours about the amazing rooms and spaces that once formed the glorious Hadrian’s Villa. Although I know that it may bore the majority of you. But for those who are interested, I invite you to check this detailed website about Tivoli and its most important attractions. In the following lines, you will find the highlights of the most important buildings inside Villa Adriana. Note the complete visit will take you about 3 hours.
Hadrian’s Villa was once a thriving complex of more than 30 buildings and 100 fountains. Its surface was larger than the city of Pompei, covering 250 acres. Even if one can only wonder about its grandiosity, there is an interesting fan-made project that can give you a sneak peak of how the Villa looked back to its splendors.
The first ancient construction you will see is the Poecile. Influenced by Greek culture, this large structure, which name is the Latin translation of painted porch, consists in a long wall that encircles a large body of water. Even if its function is still unknown, some historians think it was used as a hippodrome. Before living admire the beautiful view on Rome and its surroundings.
The Small Baths and Great Baths
There were two different baths inside Hadrian’s Villa. Luckily some of the mosaics survived the test of time until the present days. The huge structure of the Great Baths included the typical elements of Roman baths: sudatio, calidarium, tepidarium, frigidarium but also swimming pools and a gymnasium. You can enter both the ancient buildings and I recommend doing so! Partly of the original floors are still visible as well as mosaics and marble decorations.
The Canopus and Serapeum
The Canopus is a highly symbolic monument. Following the death of his lover Antinous, who drowned in the Nile, Hadrian commanded the construction of this long body of water which symbolize the Nile.
Canopus was the name of the channel in the Nile’s delta where Antinous died.
The Canopus ended in an exedra called Serapeum. This specific area was used for summer banquets to enjoy the freshness of the many streams that are in the niches of the exedra. When visiting the Serapeum, you should climb the stairs you will see on your left. The view of the Canopus from up there is beautiful.
Rocca Bruna is one of the Villa’s many mysteries. Its function is still unsure nowadays. But most probably it was a Belvedere, to enjoy the view of Rome and its surroundings. Hadrian’s passion about astronomy, made historians think it was also used as an observatory. Many centuries after the decadence of the Roman empire, the Jesuits created a chapel inside Rocca Bruna, before it was finally abandoned again.
The Golden Square
As the name says, the Golden Square was one of the most important and splendid locations in Hadrian’s Villa. A glimpse of the past days’ glory is still visible. The two large exedras are still standing as well as a few columns. When it was built the square was full of statues and precious items that were gradually stolen through the centuries. The golden square had a magnificent garden, featuring water games and fountains.
Is it a day trip to Hadrian’s Villa from Rome worth it?
Absolutely! This archaeological site is one of the most important in Rome. Besides the undeniable grandiosity, what’s unique about Hadrian’s Villa is the magical atmosphere. Even during the most touristy periods, you will have the feeling to be completely alone when wandering inside the park.
For these reasons, you simply cannot miss Hadrian’s Villa when visiting Rome. Is there more to see in Tivoli or nearby?Yes! When visiting Tivoli add also Villa d’Este to your itinerary. You can check a detailed blog post about this Renaissance masterpiece here.
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