Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rome: Hadrian's Villa and Tivoli

First things first. I am very happy to say that Mark was feeling much better yesterday and again this morning. We did a fair bit of walking as part of Monday's food tour, and it didn't help at all that most of it was on cobblestone streets, which put a lot of strain on his hip. Thanks for all who have offered prayers, thoughts and love on his behalf.

Yesterday, we headed out of Rome for a tour of the ruins of the Roman Emperor Hadrian's villa (Villa Adriana) and of nearby Villa d'Este and the famed Tilovi fountains and gardens. Mark participated in the morning tour of Hadrian's villa but wisely opted to sit in a park with a beautiful view toward Rome while I went on the afternoon tour of Tivoli.

Busts of Hadrian (left) and his lover Antinous in the British Museum. We will be seeing these ourselves later this month when we go to London.

Mark and I had wanted to visit Villa Adriana since we came to Rome this time last year. Hadrian was one of Rome's greatest emperors who presided over a period of peace, consolidation and prosperity. He reigned from 117 to 138 A.D. and is more widely known for the construction of the Pantheon in Rome and Hadrian's Wall in northern Britain. It is less widely known that he famously had a young male lover named Antinous who was from an area along the Turkish coast of the Black Sea. Hadrian met him while on a tour of the empire and took him back to Rome with him.

There is not much left now of Hadrian's extensive villa/estate, but it is still very much worth seeing. For those who may be interested this Youtube video shows a digital re-creation of the villa that brings the following pictures to life.

Antinous drowned mysteriously in the Nile River while on an imperial tour of the empire. Hadrian was devastated. He immediately deified Antinous and commanded that images and statues of him be created throughout the empire. Because Antinous was deified, temples were also built to him throughout the empire. Hadrian himself had a temple constructed at the main entrance to Villa Adriana. Every visitor had to pass by and/or worship in this temple when visiting the site. 

From Villa Adriana, it was on to Tivoli for lunch and an afternoon tour of Villa d'Este and Tivoli gardens. I have to say I was far less enamored of this place. I was, however, impressed that all of the engineering involved in creating the fountains and musical accompaniments was done in the 16th century.

Our friend, Kathy, arrived last night. Today, I will go out with her this morning while Marco rests and paints, then the three of us will go on a "gay-friendly" tour of the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's this afternoon.

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