Friday, 18 October 2013

Days 15 and 16 - Tivoli

We said our sad farewells to Sorrento and headed north on A1 toward our next destination, Tivoli, a few miles north of Rome. The little town dates back, like so many in Italy, to pre-Christian times but it owes its fame chiefly to Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este (1509-72), son of Lucrezia Borgia. 
Villa d'Este, Tivoli, Italy
Large Fountain looking down to the Pools
He decided in the 16th century to divert the water of the Aniene River through his palace grounds and through a series of fountains. The result was the fabulous Villa d’Este with its gazillion fountains. The water is fed entirely by gravity. There are no pumps. It simply flows down the steep hill pushing up through the many fountains to create fantastic effects. To add to the scene there are gardens and grottos and sculptures by numerous great artists of the time. 

I have no idea how many steps there are from the palace to the bottom of the garden. Hundreds upon hundreds. But I’ve done them all three times. I could not be in Italy and fail to visit this spectacular site.

Bernini Sculpture, Villa d'Este, Tivoli, Italy
Bernini's Sculpture
The Cardinal was fascinated by the traces of ancient history on his property, and filled his gardens with sculptures of Greek and Roman heroes. He believed the d’Este family was descended from Hercules and he dedicated his gardens to that Roman god. 

Particular favorites of mine among the sculptures are the whimsical boat by Bernini and the one to the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, being suckled by a wolf.

The first time we visited the Villa d’Este some years ago, we came with a tour group. Big mistake. The guide had other things in mind like visiting a cameo factory where she’d get a kick-back. We had a total of 45 minutes in the garden. The second time we came, some years later, we hired a car to take us out from Rome for the day. Even then we were somewhat constricted in time. This time I was determined to spend as much time as I wanted, absorbing the beauties of the place, so I booked us into Catillo, a little B&B in Tivoli for two nights. That way I figured we wouldn’t be rushed.
Romulus & Remus Sculpture, Villa d-Este, Tivoli , Italy
Romulus & Remus Sculpture

We arrived on the outskirts of Tivoli without any trouble, but we spent the next hour trying to find our B&B. Geraldine, out trusty GPS who has never before let us down, gave up in total frustration as we headed the car down one narrow, twisting lane after another. Finally JP parked the car and, leaving me in it, went to find somebody, anybody, who could help. Thirty minutes later she returned by car with an attractive young man, Massimo, co-owner of the B&B. He took us there and later returned for our car which he parked right in front of the B&B in his private parking place.

He and his brother-in-law, Marco, took on the renovation of this 500 year old building six years ago, and two years ago they opened it as a comfortable twelve room inn. They opted to keep the character of the place simple. It is almost monastic in its decorating, with travertine marble though-out, floors a soft rosy beige and cream colored walls and furniture. The beds—ahh!—have deep memory foam mattresses.

The two men are delightful and helpful hosts. We had dinner in a local trattoria, Alfredo’s, they recommended. The food was great and we were the only non-locals in the place.
Tomorrow morning we’ll be on the road again.


Following are my published novels. Go to my Goodreads page, to find more info and reviews.  

To purchase one of these books, just click on the book link below and select the vendor of your choice.

The Memory of Roses, Blair McDowell
 • The Memory of Roses ~ The story of a secret and how it impacts two generations of the McQuaid family.  It unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu and is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

"The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell is simply an incredibly lovely story. It’s also a love story, and a story about finding yourself, and about closure. The theme running through the book is “all’s well that ends well.”  --  Marlene, Reading Reality


Delighting In Your Company, Blair McDowell
 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

"Delighting In Your Company is a unique paranormal romance that brings together island folklore, history, and mystery with an unlikely romance between the past and present that had me going through a torrent of emotions and made it impossible to put down." -- The Romance Reviews


Sonata, Blair McDowell
 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find some shocking situations 
~ A robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame;
~ Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; 
~ and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, is a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding the rich and beautiful Sayuri. 

It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

“I found Sonata to be a charming novel that left me laughing out loud in parts and gnawing nails in others. It was a delight to read.” – Night Owl Reviews

Abigail's Christmas, Blair McDowell
 • Abigail's Christmas (short story) ~ An enchanting tale of love and romance, with a magical touch of fantasy.
Abigail's Christmas is a holiday story about Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing! Is it real?  Is she dreaming?  Or is it just Christmas magic?

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Blair McDowell