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Summer nights

23 Aug
When it is hot, Italy comes alive at night. The number of people dining at 10:00PM or later even on a week night is amazing. People take their lives out-of-doors once the sun goes down.
Fountains and pools of Villa d’Este, beautiful during the day, take on added drama at night.

Fountains and pools of Villa d’Este, beautiful during the day, take on added drama at night.

Although this summer has not been as miserably hot as the past two (2012 was one for the record books), it’s still humid and hard to move around in full sun. The nights are soft and pleasant, and there is a tradition of special events and the opening of venues that normally close at 6:00PM.   Notte d’Estate a Castel Sant’Angelo, Lungo Il Tevere Roma  (a festival along the Tiber), and various other events dot the calendar in Rome.
Last summer we tried to go to Tivoli to see the magnificent Villa d’Este lighted at night. It was a bust because we were driving, directional signs were poor, and we didn’t know what we were looking for. We did find on that first visit that Tivoli is very lively on summer evenings. So during the past year we made two daytrips to Villa d’Este via train to get our bearings. Finding it remarkable,  we decided to spend a night at a B&B and see the gardens by night.  Every Friday and Saturday through September 13 (weather permitting), Villa D’Este opens its gates after dark allowing one to enjoy its magnificent fountains illuminated. The transformation at night is stunning.
We boarded a regionale train from Station Tiburtina on the holiday of Ferragosto (August 15), and checked into the charming B&B al Palazzetto, a recently restored 15th century building.  The proprietor is an architect and his professionalism showed in the fine design. We were warmly welcomed and shown to a comfortable room with one of the most modern bathrooms we have had in Italy.
Delightful, serene dining on a soft summer night

Delightful, serene dining on a soft summer night

The town of Tivoli offers many fine restaurants, and it seems they are open very late to serve those who choose to tour Villa d’Este before dining. We chose one with a fine location on a piazza, Taverna Quintilia, only a few minutes’ walk from the entrance to Villa d’Este.  Taverna Quintilia is a rarity: a true Neapolitan seafood restaurant in Lazio, featuring succulent octopus, fresh marinated alici (anchovies), grilled spigola (sea bass), and more. This was some of the best seafood we have eaten outside of the Cinque Terre and Sicilia.
After dinner we headed over to Villa d’Este, arriving about 9:30PM to find a fast-moving line. The estate is huge so it swallowed the crowd easily and we enjoyed an uncrowded tour. The estate is transformed by the play of light on fountains. It occurred to us that in the U.S. this place would not be allowed to be open at night: it would be too dangerous with the low lighting, uneven walkways, and dark Renaissance staircases. We firmly held hands and thoroughly enjoyed wandering the grounds, watching the families and couples alike enjoying a soft evening – almost cool for August.

 

The Renaissance-era villa, Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este, son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia and grandson of Pope Alexander VI.

The Renaissance-era villa, commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, son of Alfonso I d’Este and Lucrezia Borgia and grandson of Pope Alexander VI.

Beautifully lighted fountains – Renaissance era faces carved into a long wall light a romantic walkway.

Beautifully lighted fountains – Renaissance era faces carved into a long wall light a romantic walkway.

An unidentified church seem s to float in the darkness, just beyond Villa d'Este.

An unidentified church seem s to float in the darkness, just beyond Villa d’Este.

Dramatic lighting of architectural features at Villa d'Este.

Dramatic lighting of architectural features at Villa d’Este.

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9 Responses to “Summer nights”

  1. Anita August 24, 2014 at 21:27 #

    Just beautiful! What an enchanting place for a night visit.

    Like

    • Marcia Kakiuchi September 6, 2014 at 00:48 #

      Just reading your description I could imagine walking through this gorgeous place/palace in the soft evening. Eating dinner late has always been a favorite of mine, especially outside. But then having to get up the next morning early is another issue!

      Like

      • gooddayrome September 6, 2014 at 13:28 #

        Marcia, I don’t know how the Italians do it! Maybe a little nap after work and before dinner?

        Like

  2. Christine August 24, 2014 at 12:15 #

    Beautiful! Wonderful during the day, but what a difference at night! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  3. ckleonard August 24, 2014 at 01:49 #

    It seems each time you write of a new place you have visited, you have topped the prior place. Of course, I know each place is so special. I’m drooling – octopus and fresh marinated alici (no, I don’t know that word but I know anchovies!)!! Talking of wonderful summer nights, last night in Portland was pretty darn wonderful. Enjoyed a Pink Martini concert at the Zoo. Perfect weather and perfect music. The Von Trap great-grandkids were with the band. They can sing!!

    Like

    • gooddayrome August 24, 2014 at 05:28 #

      I would have loved to have attended that concert! I saw it on their Facebook page. P.M. was in Rome for one night a few weeks ago and did a concert, but it STARTED at 10:00PM on a Monday night, which is past our work-for-a-living bedtime. Sorry to have missed them!

      Like

      • ckleonard August 24, 2014 at 06:49 #

        Last night was a real tribute to this band that they did not cancel. Their drummer (also a founding member) passed away this past Wednesday. What time do the people go to work if they can see a show that starts at 10 p.m.? Just thot of something. PM is going to be playing at Keller in October. I’ll see if I can find the dates.

        Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Things to do in Roma | gooddayrome - February 11, 2016

    […] in August for the evening light displays at Villa d’Este, which makes a wonderful one-night trip (see my prior post here). We’ve gone to Villa d’Este in September and April as well, and to Hadrian’s Villa (Villa […]

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