On our last day in Italy, we visited Tivoli and the gardens of Villa ‘d’Este now designated as a world heritage site and acknowledged as having a profound influence on the development of garden design throughout Europe.
There are 50 different fountains in the garden fed by the river Anio. An underground canal which was built beneath the town in 1564, harnesses the river and supplies the fountains, ornamental basins and grottoes of the Villa with water. I have seen photographs of the fountains in action, which look truly spectacular, some can be seen on Tivoli’s official site
When we arrived a small sign apologized that the fountains were not working that day due to the previous excessive rainfall in the region this year. Disappointment was an understatement!
Lining the width of the garden is the wonderful Hundred Fountains, even without water sparkling and moving, it was still very romantic. Covered in Maidenhair ferns and encrusted with lime, the fountain is quite lovely.
Elsewhere though there was a sense of incomplete sadness, to the extent I felt had to put my camera away. It felt quite wrong to photograph this wonderful garden naked without water flowing through the fountains. The most spectacular of all, designed to seriously impress visitors is the Organ Fountain, rising dramatically and apparently costing over one hundred million euros in modern terms to build. Without water sadly there was no romance to distract from its incompleteness.
When we left we asked when the fountains would be flowing again, they were not sure for certain, maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after.