Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries at the time of the Grand Tour, Tivoli was a must for artists coming from all over Europe. They were attracted by the beautiful scenery of the place, famous for the falls of the river Aniene and for the presence of sublime ruins.
Among the French painters who visited Villa d’Este Gardens we can find Huber Robert and Jean Honorè Fragonards.
Perhaps, also Luigi Vanvitelli (1700-1773) before realizing the Royal Palace in Caserta visited Villa d’Este taking inspiration from its famous gardens.
Villa d’Este and the period of the Habsburgs in the 19 century
Despite all these vicissitudes the Villa d’Este still continued preserving its charm. Between the mid-1850s and 1860, the Austrian Cardinal Gustav von Hohenolohe leased the Villa and it became a cosmopolitan centre again. A real cenacle of poets, artists and intellectuals.
Among them was Franz Listzt who lived here between 1865 and 1885. He lived a sincere internal struggle that prompted him to take religious orders.
Liszt’s composing studio inside the building is still visible. It is interesting to note that at the time of the Austrian Caridnal Gustav von Hohenolohe there was a process of Christianization of some fountains. The fountain of Venus sited on the ground floor is re-consecrated to Our Lady of Lourdes.
In the nymphaeum of Pandora was placed the statue of the Virgin of Grace and in the secret garden, the Fountain of the Unicorn is reconverted in the Fountain of San Sebastiano. Until the end of the First World War the Villa d’Este remains the property of the Habsburgs.
In 1919, with the treaty of St. Gerin, the Villa passed to the Italian State that took care of its restoration and recovery. The interventions after the Second World War were providential.