Renaissance Splendor: Villa d’Este, Tivoli

Ancient aristocrats bought property in the countryside around Rome where they built luxury residences and opulent summer homes. They often had vast grounds terraced and manicured, while water features, fountains, and birdbaths turned their homes into earthly paradises. The Renaissance revived this practice and Villa d’Este outstrips many of the other great Italian villas of the 1500s for the splash and play of its abundant fountains and the cool green beauty of its gardens.

Full-Days Near Rome: Hadrian’s Villa

Although the Emperor Hadrian’s extensive countryside estate was referred to as a “Villa,” it is better defined as an “administrative city.” Occupying well over a million square meters, the Villa was divided into banqueting halls for foreign ambassadors and palace officials, summer and winter residences, reception areas, offices, terraced gardens, baths for note-worthies and staff, and miles of underground corridors where servants scuttled, unseen by Hadrian and his court.

Full-Days Near Rome: Ostia Antica

Ostia is "Rome's Pompeii" and it reveals a lot about daily life in the classical world: we'll stroll from a hotel to the town's center, from apartment buildings, to ritzy villas, from taverns and greasy spoons to artisans' workshops and public baths. When you smell the salt air blowing in from the nearby sea, you'll understand why patricians were enchanted by Ostia and why ancient sailors called it home.