HBsite

Tivoli

The Villa Gregoriana

This page is also available in French

    The main attractions of this steeply sloping park are the waterfalls and grottoes created by the River Aniene (Berlioz calls it by its ancient name, the Anio). The park is named after Pope Gregory XVI, who in the 1830s – and therefore after Berlioz’s stay in 1831-2 – ordered the building of a tunnel to ward against flooding. When the tunnel was completed, it created a new waterfall, called the Grande Cascata (Great Waterfall), which plunges 160 metres (525 ft) into the valley behind the town of Tivoli. Throughout the 1800s, the Villa Gregoriana was popular with travellers, poets, artists, kings and emperors enchanted by the beauty of the park. Nowadays, with intensive industrial use of the water from the Aniene river the waterfall is smaller than it was in 1830s.

    Berlioz visited this park on at least two occasions, in June and November 1831: such was its natural beauty that it was a regular part of any visit to Tivoli. In a letter to his family dated 24 June 1831, in which he tells of his discovery of Tivoli, he writes (CG no. 232):

[…] I have never seen anything so ravishingly beautiful. These waterfalls, these clouds of vaporised water, these smoking chasms, this fresh river, these caves, these innumerable rainbows, the olive groves, the mountains, the country houses, the village, all this is ravishing and original. […]

    The November visit is mentioned in the account in the Memoirs of the visit to Tivoli on his return from Naples.

The Villa Gregoriana in pictures

All the photographs reproduced on this page were taken by Michel Austin in May 2007; the 19th century engraving is from our own collection. © Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. All rights of reproduction reserved.

The Villa Gregoriana in the 19th century

(Large view)

The Villa Gregoriana in 2007

(Large view)

The Villa Gregoriana
– the waterfall below Tivoli

(Large view)

The Villa Gregoriana
– the waterfall below Tivoli

(Large view)

The Villa Gregoriana
– the waterfall below Tivoli

(Large view)

The Villa Gregoriana
– the waterfall at the end of its plunge

(Large view)

The Villa Gregoriana – a grotto

(Large view)

© Michel Austin and Monir Tayeb for all the pictures and information on this page.

Copyright notice: The texts, photos, images and musical scores on all pages of this site are covered by UK Law and International Law. All rights of publication or reproduction of this material in any form, including Web page use, are reserved. Their use without our explicit permission is illegal.

Back to Berlioz in Italy main page