On the last day of our stay in Roma, we decided to go outside the city and were suggested by friends to visit Hadrian’s “villa” (imperial complex!) or Villa Adriana in Tivoli. Going there was less than straightforward, involving metro, missed train, metro again, omnibus bus, but we managed to reach the place. It is an unbelievable place, fairly well preserved with minimal additions from modern times (in this respect, far better than Knossos for instance!).
The information on the site is rather minimal but one can see the evolution from an original republican villa to the huge structure of an imperial domain. From the posters at the different buildings, I gathered that the role of most of them had been misunderstood by the early archaeologists who named them, and I wonder how much could be found in ancient documents. The multiplicity of therms and baths is amazing, the peak being the basin with the outdoor banquet place carved out of the hill…
I also found the one hundred room (cento camerelle) structure used both as a basis for another basin (poikilè) and as a lodging for servants highly impressive. The visit was made the more pleasant by the lack of visitors (except for a few Frenchmen, rather discreet for once!, and an Italian high-school class busy drawing ruins) and the unseasonable sun. It made us all want to re-read Yourcenar’s fantastic novel!