Our last installment in the Italy series. Tivoli, home of two world heritage sites, was a perfect last stop en route to the airport from Assisi.
Villa d’Este was once a Benedictine convent, converted to a pleasure palace in 1550 by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este. There are frescos and water-spouting gargoyles. And there must be at least a thousand fountains, including a 130m-long path of the Hundred Fountains, all powered by gravity alone. One fountain, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, uses its water pressure to play an organ!
I know the pictures do not convey the sentiment, but our sweet daughter adores water. She is fascinated by the sound and loves the feel on her skin and her ability to splash! It was all we could do to keep her on dry land. (Incidentally, on our recent trip to the Chesapeake Bay, John took Ari out on the kayak, but had to turn back early because she kept trying to crawl out into the water!)
We almost bypassed Villa Adriana, Emperor Hadrian’s summer residence in the early second century. On the five-km drive from Villa d’Este to Villa Adriana, our tuckered out girl fell asleep and we considered cutting our losses. We felt a little guilty, but she certainly rose to the occasion–it was almost like she knew it would be our last adventure in Italy, for the time being.
And nothing gets a smile on her face more than being on daddy’s shoulders…near water!
Unlike Villa d’Este, Villa Adriana was more like a town. Many of the structures have been designed as reproductions of buildings in Athens and Alexandria. We were in awe by how well preserved the buildings were (I can only wonder what they would have been like in their heyday) and how much access we had to them. We could reach out and touch the stone and marble; imagine doing that in the states!
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and private notes on our less than ideal flight over to Italy. The flight back went much better. Of course it helped that it was during the daytime so, although it made for a really long day, most people were not sleeping for much of the flight. And someone with the airline pulled some strings and got us a bassinet for Ari. As a result, she slept a full hour and 15 minutes, not terribly long over the course of a nine-hour flight plus getting to the airport ridiculously early (in order to try to obtain said bassinet), security, and taxiing on the runway, but it improved her overall demeanor considerably. Instead of berating me for being the rudest woman ever, several passengers and crew commented on what a sweet daughter we have. It was still hard keeping her happy and occupied, with lots of bouncing and paper-ripping and brownie nibbling (as John put it, it was like doing burpees for eight hours), and she melted down in the very last few minutes, but it didn’t leave me desperate to never take her on an airplane again. In the comment section, we discussed this awesome idea. All suggestions are welcome and encouraged–please share your wisdom! Ari’s been on 10 flights, and I am still very, very much a novice!