Throughout the Renaissance stage, recreational villas, houses in the Italian countryside that served as a second home and that were a step further away from the urban palaces of the early years of Quatrocento, had a special boom. The owners of these villas sought to get away from the increasingly crowded modern cities, as well as to recover links with nature. In this sense, we have to point out how the gardens of Mannerist villas were increasingly developed and important in their construction, an element that was also reinforced in the Baroque era, especially in France.
The Villa that we analyze here today, known as Villa d'Este, is one of the most outstanding villas of its time, although perhaps it is more so than for its architecture for its landscaping and its decoration. In the mid-16th century, the governor of Tivoli was Cardinal Hippolytus II of Este (1509 – 1572). The cardinal hoped to be appointed Pontiff of Rome after the death of Julius III, however, his plans were cut short and since then, he chose to revitalize Tivoli, for which the cardinal began with his own villa, rebuilding the old house and creating spectacular gardens that they became a World Heritage Site in 2001.
The construction work was entrusted to Pirro Ligorio who followed the instructions of the Frenchman Alberto Galvani, a well-knownengineer and architect who had already worked on other occasions for the Este family. The architecture is organized around the patio that was part of an old Benedictine convent. From the main access of the villa we access the cardinal's room, known as Old Apartment; On the same floor there is also his personal library and some other rooms.
In the gardens we find more than five hundred water points between fountains, troughs, jets, etc. The landscaping has been planned according to the mannerist ideals and in it we can appreciate the influence of the nearby Hadrian's Villa from which the Este took influences not only in terms of architecture but also in landscaping and even in facilities engineering. To carry out the hydraulic assembly, they used the hill that adjoins the town so that the unevenness of the land was saved with large and lavish waterfalls that embellished the landscape.
The beauty of the fountains is incomparable and in the realization of some of them artists as outstanding as Bernini intervened, to whom the Fountain of Neptune is attributed despite the fact that it was restored in the 20th century and has been distorted in the current.