15 Best things to do in Tivoli (Italy)

Tivoli is a commune in the Roman metropolitan area in the Lazio region. Despite its small size and its proximity to the Eternal City, Tivoli is actually a great place to visit with its many fantastic sights and attractions. The commune was founded in Roman times and was an important settlement during the reign of Emperor Hadrian due to its strategic location on the River Agnene. During the Middle Ages, Tivoli was under the control of the Papal States and had a defensive network and walls. During the Renaissance, the magnificent Villa d’Este was built and the commune continued to prosper. Today, Tivoli’s economy is based on travertine quarries and tourism.

In terms of attractions, Tivoli has excellent historical buildings such as Rocapia, Villa d’Este and the Basilica of San Lorenzo. In addition, the commune benefits from a series of magnificent waterfalls, an ancient Roman amphitheatre and a range of high-quality restaurants and bars. Due to its proximity to Rome, Tivoli is a great place for a day trip or a base for exploring Lazio.

Let’s take a look at the best events in Tivoli:

1. Villa Adriana

Villa Adriana

Many people don’t know it, but to the west of Tivoli you can find a huge complex built for the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

Covering 120 hectares, this magnificent complex contains numerous well-preserved buildings and offers an excellent insight into ancient Rome.

In the 2nd century AD, the emperor used the villa as a retreat from Rome, and Tivoli was chosen for its picturesque scenery.

Today you will find many beautiful buildings still standing, such as Grandi Terme, Quadriportico, Teatro Marittimo and Piazza d’Oro.

In addition, there are a large number of handicrafts on site, such as mosaics, pottery and ceramics.

When visiting Tivoli, a visit to Villa Adriana is an absolute must!

2. Villa Este Gardens

Villa Esther Garden

These gardens are probably the most famous in Italy and represent the pinnacle of Italian landscape garden design.

Located to the west of the city centre, close to the cathedral, the gardens are vast and you can easily spend a few hours exploring the various subdivisions.

Inside the gardens you can find several beautiful fountains, including the monumental Fontana di Nettuno, Fontana di Tivoli and Le Centro Fontane – each decorated with sculptures and ornate decorations.

In addition, there is a series of landscaped gardens filled with plants, trees and greenery.

A truly magical place to walk through and combine with the Villa d’Este Palace, one of Tivoli’s top attractions.

3. Villa d’Este Palace

Villa d'Este

Villa d’Este was created in the 16th century under the direction of Cardinal Ippolito d’Este.

Due to its location, the villa enjoys stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the gorgeous Villa d’Este gardens.

Inside the villa you can find many different rooms which have been restored and remain in their original condition.

The detail and decor in these rooms is spectacular.

Notable rooms include the Hunting Hall, the Hall of Glory, the Hall of Noah, and the Hall of the First Forum.

Pretty much every room is covered with fine art, and as you walk through each hall, you’ll see countless different stories and legends, depicted in great detail and color.

4. Via delle Cascatelle

Tivoli Falls

This walkway cuts through some beautiful parks and allows visitors to see the magnificent waterfalls that pour down north of Tivoli.

If you walk from Villa Gregoriana to Via Quintilio Varo, you can see the waterfall and the town of Tivoli.

The trail winds through some beautiful woods and is a great place to hike when the weather is nice.

If you want to see the waterfall from the top, there is a path from Via Quintilio Varo – this path leads to the edge of the waterfall, from here you can see the flow of the waterfall and hear the thundering sound of the water.

5. Rocapia

Rocapia, Tivoli

Rocca Pia is an old medieval fortress, built in the 15th century.

This beautiful building was built during the conflict between Guelph and Keppelin to strengthen the defenses of Tivoli.

What makes this structure so fascinating is its wonderfully symmetrical design and the fact that it remains in such good shape despite being over 500 years old.

Four scalloped guard towers surround the fortress, and the towers and walls are arched.

Although no access is allowed inside the Rocca Pia, it is still an important building in the heart of Tivoli.

6. Tivoli Cathedral

Tivoli Cathedral

Tivoli Cathedral is the town’s main religious building, also known as the Cathedral of San Lorenzo Mattire.

The current structure in Tivoli was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style.

Although the exterior is very modest, there is a large bell tower with various inscriptions on the white walls.

Inside the cathedral, however, is a different story – the main aisle has some absolutely stunning decorations on the ceiling, arches and main altar.

Throughout the interior, you can see countless different paintings and murals, and almost every part of the building contains some ornate decoration.

7. Villa Gregoriana

Villa Gregoriana

Nestled in the valley of the Aniene River, this romantic complex is a great place to walk through in the east of Tivoli.

Commissioned by Pope Gregory XVI in the 19th century, the villa has a series of beautiful gardens, grottoes and paths that meander through the landscape.

Notable features include the Kraken Grotto, Neptune Grotto, and of course Cascata Grande – you can get a stunning view of this waterfall from the villa, and the man-made passages that guide its flow.

While visiting Tivoli, consider taking time to explore this villa and the surrounding natural area.

8. St. Andrew’s Church

St Andrea's Church

Often overlooked by Tivoli Cathedral, this understated church has some stunning decorations on its own and is a true hidden gem.

If you go from Via Ponte Gregoriano to Via dei Sosii, you will eventually find the church in Via Sant Andrea.

The exterior is rather bland, with a few marble statues and Latin inscriptions, but the real treat is inside.

When entering the church, you wouldn’t expect such an ornate decoration – the ceiling is especially interesting as it has a checkerboard design with many golden reliefs.

Not only that, but the marble pillars of the main walkway have beautiful swirl patterns, and the main altar is decorated with colorful frescoes – don’t miss this little-known treasure!

9. Tempio di Vesta

Vesta speed

Located on the west side of the Aniene Valley, the Temple of Vesta occupies a domineering position with stunning views of Villa Gregoriano and the Tivoli Falls.

Two temples are actually close to each other – the Tempio di Vesta and the Temple of Sibylla; both are relics of Rome’s past cities.

The Temple of Vesta had a beautiful circular design with many magnificent columns, while the Temple of Sibylla is now a simple square structure.

At night, the columns are lit up and the effect is very impressive.

There’s even a restaurant next to Tempio di Vesta, offering outdoor seating next to this magnificent building.

10. Bledsoe Amphitheatre

Bledsoe Amphitheatre

As mentioned, Tivoli dates back to Roman times – Emperor Hadrian once lived here.

Many buildings have survived from this period, and one such remains is the Roman amphitheater.

This wonderful building has only recently reopened to the public, but now it is possible to walk through the ruins to see the stand of this once glorious theatre.

Adjacent to Rocca Pia and Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, the amphitheater is conveniently located and is a great place to visit when walking through the centre of Tivoli – you can still see the original oval shape of the building and some of its columns and walls.

11. Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi

Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, Tivoli

To the south of Tivoli city centre you can find the huge Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The square is the central point of the town and has some beautiful buildings, including the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the large modernist sculptural arch that spans the two pools in the center of the square.

Also, at the southern end of the square, you’ll find a beautiful garden and Panoramica Di Tivoli – a viewpoint overlooking the surrounding countryside, where the sunsets are absolutely breathtaking.

12. Eat at Ristorante Osteria la Briciola

Ristorante Osteria la Briciola

Tivoli has a variety of great restaurants, and Ristorante Osteria la Briciola is one of the top rated restaurants in the area.

This fine hotel is actually located just outside the city in the small village of Bivio San Polo, on the slopes of Monte Catillo Mountain.

Here you can taste countless fine dishes, including seafood and traditional pasta dishes.

Also, their dessert section is mouthwatering and every selection tastes amazing and looks amazing.

Many commented on the restaurant’s attention to detail, the friendly attitude of the staff and the beautiful environment.

13. Rome day trip

Rome, Italy

You simply can’t miss the chance to visit Rome when you’re in Tivoli.

Tivoli is located 20 kilometers east of the center of Rome and has excellent transport links with the Eternal City.

Rome is known around the world for its marvelous ancient architecture and ornate historical buildings.

Famous sights include the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.

This is just the beginning, Rome has much more to offer than these famous attractions.

Tivoli is an ideal base for exploring Rome and heading to the city centre.

14. Have a drink at Flo’s Cafe & Bistro

cocktail

Flo’s café and bistro is located in Via Ponte Gregoriano; a short walk from Tivoli’s magnificent waterfalls.

This hotel is a great place for a quiet drink, but you can also enjoy a hearty meal or coffee.

The decor is upscale, and the bistro bar has a pleasant and charming atmosphere – if you can find an outdoor table, you’ll have a view of the temple of Sibylla.

For those who prefer a drink or two, you can choose from a variety of craft beers, wines and spirits, including many from the local area.

15. Riserva Naturale Monte Catillo

Riserva Naturale Monte Catillo

To the northeast of Tivoli you can find the Monte Catillo Nature Reserve.

Centered on Monte Catillo, the reserve has been designated as a protected area since 1997. The reserve is mostly covered in dense forest, and it is possible to hike through this beautiful area and even climb to the top of the mountain.

At the top of Monte Catillo is a massive steel cross that can be seen from miles away.

While hiking in the park, you can enjoy fantastic views of the surrounding landscape and even the waterfalls in Tivoli.

Where to stay: The best hotels in Tivoli, Italy
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