I was incredibly fortunate to study in Rome my junior year of college, and one of my favorite class trips was to Villa d’Este in Tivoli (about 20 miles from Rome). Cardinal Ippolitio II d’Este was gifted the villa when he became governor of Tivoli and he commissioned its reconstruction in 1550. The villa itself is a work of Renaissance art, frescoed by many Roman painters. However, the most breathtaking beauty lies in the terraced gardens. Court architect Alberto Galvani carried out the plans of Pirro Ligorio, which include gorgeous vegetation in addition to waterfalls, fountains and pools. The waterworks themselves are a feat of early Roman hydraulic engineering. The upper photo shows the view from atop the Fountain of Neptune, looking down one of the central axes of the garden toward the fish ponds. The lower photo looks up at the Fountain of Neptune from the perspective of the ponds, with the Fountain of the Organ beyond. The latter fountain contains a working water organ, which plays beautiful music as the water flows.
Top Photo: Andy Hay (Flickr CC - Altered)
Bottom Photo: Hendrik Dacquin (Flickr CC)