I love summer. I love heat, I love sun and I love carefree long days. The summer of 2009, I was three months pregnant and my husband and I found REALLY cheap tickets to go to Italy in August. We immediately bought them and decided to make a Babymoon of the trip.
There’s a reason why tickets were so cheap….it’s hot as blazes in Italy in August! It’s so hot that most Italians leave their own country for the entire month! Fast forward six years and two kids later and we found ourselves in Rome once again in the middle of summer. My kids are a mix of Caribbean and Mediterranean so they thrive in warm climates, but Rome, with record breaking, heat was a bit more than they bargained for. We needed to get out and the Villa d’Este with kids in Tivoli was just the ticket.
In an ideal world, we would’ve planned more beach or mountain excursions during our Italian vacation but we had family commitments in Rome. Because we didn’t have time for any small-town visits, my husband and I were adamant about fitting in a daylong expedition outside the city. The historic hill town of Tivoli with kids, less than one hour outside Rome, was perfect for our brood. We decided to be adventurous and drive there but also found buses and trains that went there regularly from Rome.
We arrived around lunchtime and had a really nice outdoor meal in the city center. Tivoli is small but there’s a lot to see. Emperor Hadrian’s Villa, Villa Gregoriana and Villa d’Este are all near each other. After days of being cramped in the eternal city’s oppressive heat, we felt like the kids needed to explore freely so we focused solely on one landmark.
We chose Villa d’Este with kids, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and perhaps one of the most famous Italian Renaissance gardens. We actually went inside the villa which I highly recommend. The rooms had gorgeous frescos and open windows with breathtaking views of the gardens. Best of all, most rooms were totally empty so no need to panic about whether or not your kid takes a crayon to a couch from the 16th Century!
Without fail however, the best part were the gardens. There were hidden grottos and mysterious nooks and crannies at every turn! The kids frolicked among amazing statues and fountains while we sat on romantic benches and imagined outdoor summer parties thrown centuries ago. Maneuvering a stroller was a little difficult but it came in real handy when our three year old, Luca, decided to take a nap.
We found a gushing shaded fountain and the noise of the water coupled with the cool sprinkles put him right to sleep. Needing a pick-me-up, I wandered into a tiny gift shop where I found a vending machine that sold espresso shots. After a jolt of caffeine and cool naps, we were ready to continue exploring the lush and fun grounds. We rounded out the afternoon exploring tiny Tivoli with kids a bit. We had a fab gelato at Piazza Garibaldi and even did a little shopping.
It was nice to get away from the stifling urban heat in Rome and enjoy an outdoor masterpiece overflowing with nymphs, grottoes and water. Your kids will love Villa d’Este in Tivoli…and so will you!