Melia Matthews: The Secret Garden

This is the first in a series of blog posts from Whitties studying on Whitman’s Crossroads: Rome, Italy: Landscape and Cityscape in Ancient Rome program this summer with Professor Kate Shea. Melia Matthews ’20 is a Biology & Classical Studies Major.

Ville D’Este- Tivoli, Italy

Another amazing day and another fantastic site that we got to experience. After we
explored Hadrian’s Villa about 40 minutes outside of Rome and had a delicious lunch at a
restaurant in the heart of ancient Tivoli, we headed to the focus of our afternoon, the Ville

We spent a few hours wandering around the centuries old villa, taking in the beautiful
frescoes, the different styles of paintings, and the gorgeous views overlooking the valley below.
But the greatest thing about this villa was the garden. Multiple terraces of lush greenery, gravity
powered fountains, and flowing water everywhere made the outdoor space a heaven on earth.

After being in Rome for 2 weeks, I have realized how much I miss the water. The Tiber runs
only a few short minutes from the apartments we are staying in, but it is not really swimmable,
and there are no easily accessible pools or rivers or lakes to jump in. In short, I have been
craving some water, and Ville D’Este provided. We ran our hands through the multitudes of
pools, sprayed each other at the fountains, and even shocked each other with cool handfuls of
water down the back of the neck! It was the perfect way to be refreshed after a day in the sun,
and we still got to appreciate the astounding innovations and engineering that created the villa
and its estate. Along with the water features, there was also lots of shade, a nice change from the wide open spaces of the Roman forums and the hills of the city.


Today we explored the ruins of an ancient Roman imperial villa, experienced local
cuisine next to an ancient temple, and saw the place that was home to the most powerful families in the region for hundreds of years. And yet, sitting by a fountain, surrounded by friends and fellow classical aficionados, finding time to relax and appreciate all that we had seen, was still my favorite part of the day.

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