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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli

Our trip to Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este was probably intended primarily to inspire the architects amongst us, yet as a student of art history I found myself amazed by the remarkable preservation of the cite and the perfect example of classicism influence on the trajectory of Western art.

Hadrian’s Villa (courtesy of Lauren Peters)
Architectural plan (Courtesy of Lauren Peters)


A quick trip outside of Rome, we journeyed by bus to Tivoli, to explore the ancient villa of Hadrian built between 118 and 134 CE by the Roman emperor Hadrian. A massive and sprawling affair constructed against the Sabina hills, the villa surpasses all other ancient villas in scale and grandeur.

However, what fascinated me most about this wondrous cite was learning of its influence on later artists and architects. This first occurred during the Renaissance, when architects such as Palladio sought inspiration from classical forms. These forms were then translated by later painters such as Claude Lorrain and Nicholas Poussin, enabling a much broader European audience to appreciate the classical forms.  However, Hadrian’s villa itself sought inspiration from early forms. As mentioned in the lecture, recent studies of the villa reveal sculptural fragments in an Egyptian style. What this proves is the powerful conversations which occur across time and space to create art and architecture. Nothing (especially in Rome) gets built in isolation, and it feels like the entirety of the city has significance.

Studying, working, and living here it’s easy to become desentized to our incredible surroundings, so I am grateful for trips like these to remind us not only why we studied in Rome, but what an exceptional opportunity this is.

Villa D’este in all its glory! (courtesy of Lauren Peters)




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