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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli

This past weekend, our class went on its first field trip! The first stop on our itinerary for the day was Hadrian’s Villa. The archaeological complex, constructed from 118 to 133AD, is located in Tivoli, Italy, a city that is about a one hour drive from Rome.

As our class looked at the plan of the Villa, one of the first things that our history professor mentioned was that the complex could perhaps be recognized as a city rather than a single residence- during the 2nd century AD, the complex contained over 30 buildings and covered more than one square-kilometer of land. All that remains now are ruins, though moments in the complex do reveal what might have existed in the original Villa. While on the site, a vivid imagination is absolutely necessary.

Our class views an on-site scale model of Hadrian's Villa.
Our class views an on-site scale model of Hadrian’s Villa. Photographs by Erin Soygenis.

A view of the ruins from inside the complex.

Experiencing the structure up close and in person made the lecture engaging and exciting, for the information provided by our professor aided our imaginations while viewing the ruins of such a grand and detailed archaeological complex.

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Our class walks through the beautifully sunlit Villa, led by our professors.

The complex is quite vast.

After the first part of our lecture, we had a long break to explore the villa on our own and we could see the galleries in the site that contained the real artifacts and sculptures from the original construction. Sure enough, the complex was quite easy to get lost in and we found ourselves walking in circles at moments. Still, following the ruins and imagining the spaces that they had once defined proved to be an engaging experience.

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