Hadrian's Villa / Arrivederci Roma
It's been a while again. To those of you reading this, thank you for sticking around!
After the Vatican, I still had two days left in Rome and no solid plans for either day. This left time for a day trip, either to Naples or to Hadrian's Villa. Hadrian is my favorite Roman emperor and I was excited about the idea of visiting his villa; however, getting there is complicated (understatement). Earlier in the week, I lacked the confidence to make the trip, but by Friday I decided that I wanted to go badly enough that I should give it a shot.
With the help of extremely detailed instructions, I took the Metro from the main train station out to a bus stop. After some searching I found the booth for tickets to and from the villa, purchased them, and waited an hour for the bus to arrive. Please take my advice and don't use the automatic self cleaning toilet at the bus stop.
I got on the bus, confirmed with the driver that it was stopping at Hadrian's Villa, and settled in for an hour long ride. It was pouring but still nice to watch the countryside go by. We passed through a few small towns and neat stone overpasses.
I was thankful for my directions because without them, I would've missed the stop. With the combined help of signs, my directions, and locals, I finally reached the villa. It cleared up long enough for me to turn around and see the town of Tivoli on the nearby hills.
Walking around, it was easy to see why Hadrian would want to rule from here instead of Rome. After being in cities for a couple weeks, it was nice to be in the countryside. Rolling hills surrounded the ruins and it was full of birdsong and nice trees. I started my visit at the Pecile, a pool situated at the entrance fo the villa. The Pecile has a perimeter such that two laps around it is the exact distance that Romans thought appropriate for an after lunch walk. It was peaceful and quiet except for the occasional splash of a large koi fish.
At this point it started raining again and I had to put my guidebook away to save it from becoming a soggy mess. I continued along the path and explored some of the ruins. The good thing about going on a rainy day was that hardly anyone else was there. For half an hour it felt like I was the only person there, and running around Hadrian's Villa by myself was literally a dream come true.
Back in the day the villa was filled with art, but over the years most of it was taken away by collectors and has been scattered around the world, notably to The Louvre and Vatican Museums. It must've looked spectacular when it still had all of its art, but fortunately I saw a good portion of it when I went to both of those museums.
As I ran around it only started to rain harder. I forgot my waterproof jacket at the bed and breakfast and the jacket I wore soon had the functionality of a wet blanket. I was getting cold and knew that I still had to make it down the hill back to the bus and then back to Rome from there. Not wanting to get sick, I decided to head back early. I was sad that my visit was short but remained positive by remembering that I never thought I'd even get to go there. Before I left, I dashed over to the Canopus, a long pool at the other end of the villa.
While the directions I had were incredibly thorough in describing how to get to the villa, they neglected to describe how to get back. I went back to where the bus dropped me off and couldn't find so much as a sign designating where the stop was. I probably would've been fine if I waited on the other side of the street, but I was really cold and worried about standing in one place when I didn't know if the bus would come that way. I finally got on a bus only to have it dump me in the middle of a town right outside of Tivoli. This small town doesn't see a lot of tourists and no one spoke English, so with my best Italian I asked for directions to the bus stop for Rome. I got a lot of responses that I didn't understand, but eventually ended up in front of a bank with a group of people. When I asked one of them if it was the stop for Rome and they replied yes, I could've cried. Getting that lost was terrifying but I got through it. I was thrilled to have warm pizza and white wine at the restaurant across the street from my bed and breakfast that night.
The following day was my last day in Rome. In the morning I walked over to the National Museum of Rome, which has a large collection of ancient Roman art and other artifacts. At this point I think I've been to almost every museum related to ancient Rome within Rome itself (but I'm open to suggestions). The museum was great and had an interesting temporary exhibit on monsters.
Afterwards, I made my way (intentionally) to Trevi Fountain. It's a gorgeous fountain and I'm happy that I waited to see it.
I was still pretty exhausted from the previous day, so I roamed around for a while and then went back to my bed and breakfast. For dinner I went back and had risotto nero one last time.
It was hard to leave and I'm so glad that I decided to go. My week in Rome was one of the best weeks of my life so far and I am certain that I will try to go back some day. It was also enlightening to see how happy I was to be immersed in classical history. Perhaps I will pursue this in the future.
I'm finally caught up with Rome, but I still need to report what I've been up to in Norway! I hope to get into a more regular posting habit soon.