Italy 2020 – Villa Adriana

A look at Villa Adriana.

I am continuing my account of my holiday in Italy (2-11 September inclusive) with a look at Villa Adriana. Before I cover the attraction itself I offer…


I am doing this here because I encountered a cricket on the way to Villa Adriana and there were some tiny lizards (about four inches long, presumably insectivorous – quick internet search reveals that there is actually a species called the Italian Wall Lizard, which fits the description) in the grounds of the villa:


This was the emperor Hadrian’s country retreat, and he had replicas of the most impressive stuff he had seen in the course of his travels (and he saw most of the Roman empire, then at pretty much its absolute height – he had pulled back from some of his predecessor’s conquests, deeming them unsustainable). The site is very substantial, and in Hadrian’s time must have had a staff of thousands looking after it. This is a UNESCO world heritage site, and it thoroughly deserves that designation.

I end this post with another waterfall video:

Italy 2020: Villa Gregoriana

Continuing my account of my Italian holiday with a look at Villa Gregoriana, plus a link to an important petition.

It has been a while since my last post, but I have not forgotten about all of you who support me here on wordpress. Today I continue my account of my Italian holiday (2-11 September inclusive). In my most recent post I covered the move from Rome to Tivoli. Today I look at the first major attraction we visited in Tivoli. However, before I get into the meat of this post I have something to draw your attention to:


My attention was drawn today to a petition on calling for the minimum wage to be increased and turned into a genuine living wage. Many of the workers affected are also the precise workers on whom we have been relying during the pandemic. I have posted a screenshot below and urge you to sign and share this petition.


The name of this place derives from the 16th and last pope to use the name Gregory (the selfsame Gregory who created an order of knights supposedly named in honour of the first pope Gregory) who oversaw some important engineering works in the area (the waterfalls, including the big one I have showing videos of are nearly all engineered and not as they would have looked in olden times, when the river Aniene regularly flooded the town). Although it is named as a villa the grounds are all that remain, although among the many landmarks they feature are the remains of a temple of Vesta.

We walked there and then through the grounds. The walking route goes right down into the heart of what is a very deep valley and then up the other side. The ascent, in heat that was already quite punishing (the temperature was into the thirties, unusually hot for the time of year), caused me serious problems – a combination of exhaustion and dehydration. Four of us including me travelled back to our villa in a taxi, and I spent a very quiet afternoon in my room, drinking lots of water. I recovered, and thereafter never went out without water and adopted a much more cautious approach for the rest of the stay. I enjoyed seeing the grounds of the Villa Gregoriana, which as I hope the photo gallery that follows indicates are quite extraordinary.

I end this post, as usual for this series, with a waterfall video:

Italy 2020 – Rome to Tivoli

Continuing my account of my Italian holiday with the moving day.

We have reached a turning point in my account of my Italian holiday (2-11 September inclusive). After four nights in Rome it was time to move on to Tivoli for the second part of the stay.


We had to vacate our apartment in Rome by 10AM, and the car that had been hired for the Tivoli leg of the holiday was due to be available from Roma Termini at 12:00. Given our baggage it seemed sensible not to attempt the journey across Rome by public transport, so my nephew used an app on his phone to hire an Uber van to collect us. The morning went fairly smoothly, and the delay at Roma Termini was not too long either (we found a cafe near the car hire place and had some refreshment).

We travelled by way of the Via Tiburtina, and visited a supermarket en route to purchase drinks for the stay (breakfast and supper were provided with the accommodation, but booze was our responsibility).

We were booked into the Villa Sant’Antonio just outside Tivoli, where we were to be joined by an uncle, aunt and cousin plus an old family friend. We arranged who would have which rooms, and were then able to relax for the rest of the day.

The Villa Sant’Antonio is an ex-convent, and is allegedly above the site of a villa owned by the great Roman poet Horace (there is a reference to him enjoying the view of a waterfall, and as you will see in a later post there are some remains which lend credence to the claim).

I finish this post with a waterfall video:

Italy 2020 – Caravaggio, Spanish Steps and Pizza

Continuing my account of my Italian holiday, featuring Caravaggio, The Spanish Steps and a remarkable Pizza experience.

Welcome to the latest post in my series about my Italian holiday (2-11 September inclusive), which deals with the second half of the final full day in Rome before we moved on to Tivoli.


After finishing at Domitian’s Stadium we headed towards the Spanish Steps, and along the way we passed the church of Sant’Agostino, the main feature of which is a painting by the artist Caravaggio. It is very dark, and there is little light unless you pay 1 euro to have it briefly lit up. For obvious reasons flash photography is forbidden (I am in any case not keen on using the flash on my camera, so no hardship for me).

Although the main feature of the church it was not the only one of interest, as this gallery, which covers from leaving Domitian’s Stadium to leaving the church should show:


We completed our afternoon’s activities with by walking to the Spanish Steps and then back to our apartment. There was, as always in Rome, much to see, as the gallery below indicates.


For that evening’s supper, our last in Rome before moving on to Tivoli the following morning, we were booked into Emma’s Pizzeria. I opted for ‘Bufala con prosciutto’, a pizza with buffalo milk cheese and prosciutto. It was a ‘white pizza’ – no tomato in the topping, which suits me fine. Roman pizzas have very thin and crispy bases, which I also approve of, so all in all this was a great success (indeed we had lunch there before heading to the airport for our flight home at the end of the holiday, and I made precisely the same choice).

I end as is my custom with these posts with a waterfall video from Tivoli:

The Piazza Navona and Domitian’s Stadium

Continuing my Italian holiday series with an account of the Piazza Navona and Domitian’s Stadium.

This is the latest post in my series about my recent holiday in Italy (not all of us feel obligated to deny our travels, especially when there is indisputable evidence as to our whereabouts at the times in question), and its main theme is a visit to two places which are one on top of another.


After our look at the Via Appia we went out for supper at very fine restaurant which had some ruins visible beneath its floor. The meal was excellent. It was obvious from some of the things that we were warned about while ordering our food that they have had problems with English folk before (disappointing but sadly unsurprising that this should be the case), but we all thoroughly enjoyed it.


My sister, my nephew and I visited Piazza Navona in the morning, my mother being at that point in bed due to illness which we reckon was diabetes related. Although she ate very little that day she subequently perked up sufficiently to come out in the afternoon which began with a return to Piazza Navona and an exploration of Domitian’s Stadium, the remains of which are underneath Piazza Navona. We did a few other things which will feature in my next post after we had finished there.

Domitian was one of Rome’s worst emperors, eventually being murdered in his palace and subsequently declared ‘damnatio memoriae’ – ‘damned to the memory’. Tacitus, who was too cautious to write about someone as recent as Domitian, used Tiberius, the second emperor after Augustus, as his ‘surrogate Domitian’. Domitian is also covered by Suetonius in “The Twelve Caesars”, being the twelfth Caesar – Suetonius starts with Julius Caesar who was never officially styled as emperor, and also covers Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.

Both the Piazza Navona of today and the remains of Domitian’s stadium are well worth visiting. The latter has an audio guide which you can use for extra information – you get a headset and a map with number locations, and when you are at one of the locations you position the headset over that number on the map and play the relevant audio.

I end this post in my signature style with a waterfall video:

The Via Appia

Continuing my account of my Italian holiday with a look at the Roman end of the Via Appia.

Welcome to the fourth post in my series about my Italian holiday (2-11 September 2020). This post picks up from the end of the Ostia post and covers the second major activity of the holiday, a look at the Roman end of the Via Appia (I saw the other end of the Via Appia at Brindisi – Brundisium in ancient times – on a previous visit to Italy some years back, but I have yet to see the intermediate point at Capua).


We had supper out at a place that was a fair walk from the apartment we were staying. The meal was well worth the walk. It was at this meal that I discovered wild chicory, which is excellent stuff. Here are some pictures from that evening.


My mother, my sister and I went out to visit a food market near where we were staying. This was a very enjoyable little trip, and a good warm up for the afternoon’s activity.


My sister had worked out a route from our apartment to the Via Appia that involved two bus journeys with a change on the way, and we followed that route, albeit with a hitch in the middle due to confusion about where to catch the second bus from, which added a fair bit of walking to our day. Nevertheless we arrived at the Via Appia in reasonable time and were able to do some exploring. Here are pictures from the journey through Rome:


This was one of Rome’s great roads, built by Appius Claudius Caecus in the late 4th century BCE. It contained two legs, 132 miles from Rome to Capua, a military training town and then Capua to Brundisium. At the Roman end are several features of interest, including the tomb of Caecilia Metella, a villa of later vintage, the road itself, which still has some of its original cobblestones in place and a church which features the Quo Vadis story. There is also an excellent cafe – I drank a 50cl bottle of Peroni Gran Riserva Doppio Malto, which is a quite excellent beer. Unfortunately my camera battery ran out before the Quo Vadis church, so my photo gallery is not quite complete.