We left the thermal spa as quickly as we could after breakfast (buffet style, fine, but not great) which was made much better for the people-watching of a large family group. They clearly ‘took the waters’ as a family tradition and it was fun to watch them interact.
Our destination that day was the deserted city of Monterano, a deserted village sitting on the top of a hill — by which I mean a massive volcanic rock whose sides drop about 300 feet on two underlying gorges — inside the natural park of the same name, located in the center of Italy not too far from Rome. It is a ghost city made up of beautiful ruins.
Villa Adriana is said to be the most remarkable and extravagant Roman Villa, more of a small city than a country mansion. The villa was built for Emperor Hadrian who did not like his palace on the Palatine Hill in Rome. When not traveling Hadrian preferred to live here rather than in Rome, and during the final years of his reign he lived here permanently from where he ruled the Empire. Consequently, the villa complex was required to accommodate his staff, courtiers, guards and slaves. Originally the property of his wife Vibia Sabina, the villa complex covers some 120 hectares and includes a variety of buildings many of which have architectural features and decorative sculptures copied from various places in the Mediterranean that Hadrian visited.
Inspired by Antoni Gaudi’s work in Barcelona and the Parco dei Mostri in Bomarzo, de Saint Phalle artist Niki de Saint Phalle created what has become one of the greatest sculpture gardens of the 20th century: Il Giardino dei Tarocchi (The Tarot Garden).
This post is mostly images, because they convey so much more than my words could.