Sunday In The Park With Dino

Sunday we hired a driver and went to Tivoli to see how real Italians lived. The driver’s name was Dino…of course.

Amy inquired at the concierge desk at the hotel. Alexandra was very helpful and said she would call one of her “friends”. Her phone call consisted of a lot of hand gestures, kissing the phone and saying “Ciao, ciao, ciao”  a bunch of times. It seems the Italian phone system can pick up waving of hands. This secret code got us Dino.

Tivoli is where the Romans got all the marble to build Original Roma. To haul the billions of tons of marble used in the construction they needed a really good road. That worked out so well that they went on to build the greatest road system in the ancient world.
The road system that the barbarian hoards used to invade Rome.

Oops…

The first thing  to get used to in Italy is they use the metric system for money – the Euro. Anything priced with a weird looking  “E” is automatically 4 times as expensive. A Coca Cola that should cost $1.25 is €4. A $35 Polo shirt? Figure on €195. I finally figured it out, they use the same pricing scale as Disneyland.

The Euro replaced the Lira 15 years ago. The Lira was much more fun because it took 2.3 million lira to equal one dollar. A kid could get his weekly allowance and claim to be a millionaire. A lot of people don’t know that Italy invented paper money because of this. Hauling a payroll for the legionnaires in billions of coins led to the fall of the Roman Empire, I think.

In Tivoli (Italy, not Copenhagen) there are two fascinating sites. Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este.

Villa Adriana looks like this…

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it use to look like this.

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Due to that whole invading hordes thing they really haven’t been able to keep up with the maintenance.

Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, after the disappointment of a failed bid for the papacy, revived the magnificence of Villa Adriana by building Villa d’Este.  Sorta like Al Gore building his big place in Nashville, “The Carbon Footprint Plantation” .
As Governor of Tivoli from 1550, he came up with the idea of creating a garden on the hanging cliffs of the “Valle gaudente”.

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There were a lot of Roman baths at Adriana…not sure if the Cardinal went in for that.

We finished the day discovering the park above the Plaza de Popolo. Amy thought it was just the place where Italian men took unsuspecting tourist ladies “…to see the sunset”…if you know what I mean.

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But there we found a really cool urban oasis, the gardens of Villa Borghese.

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Right nearby is the Villa Medici. Owned by one or another of the Medici popes, there were four of them (sorta like the Bush family), it was later taken over by Napoleon who moved in a bunch of French painters and named it Académie de France à Rome, which pissed off the local marble sculpture crowd. I’m sure there was some war fought over it.

Just before dinner we failed at a selfie again…

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