A little Italian town called Tivoli
Tivoli, oh Tivoli. The little Italian town that stole my heart. I am literally ecstatic to be writing my first blog post around my Italy trip. It is very delayed, since it's already been exactly 67 days since I landed back in South Africa but life is life and I try to write about things as I feel the pull and today Tivoli just happened to be pulling on my mind. With spring day two days ago, South Africa is a buzz with the anticipation of flowers in bloom and warmer weather and I couldn't help but think of the day I spent wondering beautiful gardens and cobblestone streets, brimming with blooming flowers, in Tivoli.
LET'S START AT THE START - SICILY:
I work as a freelance facilitator for the most amazing company called "Find Your Pack" aka "PACK.Adventures LTD" , a small and authentic travel company who run retreats around the world for digital nomads. I went on a paid trip with them in February to Bali and it changed my life completely (No jokes here or cheesy one liners for the sake of it, this ish is true.) During the trip I found out that the company was looking for a facilitator to help out on future trips, so being my usual over eager self, I threw my hat in and long story short, it all came together and two months later I was on a plane heading to Sicily to facilitate a month-long retreat for an awesome company. I had never even thought of Sicily as a place to go before and it completely blindsided all my expectations. I promise to write a blog or many blogs on my month there soon because I got up to so much and would really love to share my experience and a guide, for if you ever find yourself there. All good things take time ;)
THEN THERE WAS ROME:
After my month in Sicily I met up with my mom for 10 days in Rome. Yes a whole 10 days, because we both love the concept of slow travel. Not having to exhaust yourself seeing 100 tourist destinations in a day, being able to blissfully waft down streets, unaware of passing time, is simply my best way to travel and a luxury for sure. I love to immerse myself in a place and get to know places off the normal paths, which only time allows. Rome was phenomenal. Now I'm a nature girl through and through and crowds are one of my least favourite things so I did not expect to love it as much as I did BUT one thing you most likely don't know about me is that I am a history fanatic. All throughout school, history was my favourite and highest achieving subject, so I couldn't help but be completely gob smacked by the history around every single literal corner. At a stage I remember wanting to close my eyes as we walked home because my feet were killing me but I had to go read every sign or stop to take in the beauty of every site. In 10 days we did A LOT! We explored most of the tourist sites, all of the neighbourhoods in and around the city, spent lazy afternoons reading in Villa Borghese Park and even got to watch a Red Bull box car race! Again sometime this year I hope to bring you the full break down.
SO HOW DOES TIVOLI FIT IN THE PICTURE AND WHY DID IT STEAL MY HEART:
Now that you have the back story let's get into Tivoli. Because we had 10 Days in Rome we decided to do some day trips, one of which was to a town we had found months before called Tivoli. We were initially attracted to the town because we wanted to see at least one old Italian town and this one seemed perfect, nestled in the hills with beautiful gardens and Villa's to visit. When approaching Tivoli on the train, we rounded a tunnel and were greeted by what I can only describe as magical. A big cascading waterfall fell from the hills, which were topped with old Italian houses, laundry hanging off balconies and houses precariously placed on the hillside. A beautiful arched bridge and a cathedral bell tower topping off the magic. The streets were a quiet delight after the bustle of Rome. It was like we were transported to an entirely different place and time.
GETTING TO TIVOLI FROM ROME AND GETTING AROUND IN TIVOLI:
To get from Rome to Tivoli is actually pretty straight forward. You can find the Train Map really easily on most sites showing you the metro routes. Basically you need to get to the main station, Termini, and from there you catch a normal metro to Tiburtina (on the blue line.) Your ticket from Termini to Tiburtina will cost you 1.50 Euro and is valid for 100 minutes. Then at Tiburtina you can buy a ticket for a Trenitalia train. It cost us 7,20 Euro return per person with trains leaving fairly regularly. Coming back you can book a train directly to Termini but these are slightly more scarce. The train station is just on the outskirts of the town but definitely close enough to walk and the walk seemed very safe with lots of people around. The best way to get around when actually in Tivoli is to simply walk. It is a fairly small town with most of the Villas and the oldest part of the town all in one area, so get lost in the side streets and just enjoy!
WHAT TO DO IN TIVOLI:
The top thing on our list was to relax and enjoy the beautiful gardens of the 16th-century Villa d'Este. After being in a city for 8 days I was so happy to bask in the cascading water features, green grass and blooming flowers. We ended up spending 3 hours wondering the Gardens, just taking it all in. We also thought ahead and bought some picnic snacks before going in, so we found a quiet spot near one of the fountains and took time to enjoy a meal and imagine we were in ancient Rome. The abundance of water features was crazy! I mean how many can you have in one garden? Water was a symbol of wealth and power in the Roman times and it is amazing to sit and imagine everyone walking through their immaculate garden, wearing beautiful cotton or silk garments, lost in thought. We then took the rest of our time there to just wander the streets, stop for Gelato of course and just get lost in the beautiful old streets. Another very well-known site in the town is Hadrian's Villa which we didn't go into but is apparently also beautiful. You can also visit the park that the waterfall is in, called Villa Gregoriana. We didn't, as we found the entrance price a bit to steep to see a waterfall we could see from our view on the train ride in.
Tivoli is a beautiful day trip out of Rome with history, beautiful gardens and that old town feeling. I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Rome or the surrounding area.
My favourite photos from Villa D’este and the town below.