You are planning a trip to Rome in June and dread the heat... You are staying for a week or two and want to scratch more than the surface... Or it is your sixth trip to the Eternal City and you're ready for something different... Treat yourself to the Renaissance gardens near Viterbo: Palazzo Farnese at Caprarola and Villa Lante at Bagnaia!
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.
First, meet Agostino Chigi, the Renaissance tycoon, and then revel in his unique summer home in Trastevere. He had it built in the early 1500s by Baldassare Peruzzi, an architect who loved ancient Rome's glorious architecture and applied its grandeur to his own works. Chigi's Villa was then frescoed by some of the most talented artists that money could buy (namely Raphael, his students, Peruzzi, and Sodoma). It's a gorgeous glimpse into the rip-roaring early Renaissance!
The Vatican can be overwhelming: Papal Palaces turned Museums, art overload at the Sistine, and Saint Peter's (which was the largest Catholic Church in the world until two decades ago)... For an institution that insisted on vows of poverty, it certainly sponsored orgies of glitter and color!