Tivoli, Lazio

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Comune di Tivoli
Detail from the Villa Gregoriana, 2015-05-19-4.jpg
View from the Villa Gregoriana
Flag of Tivoli.svg
Location of Tivoli
Tivoli, Lazio
Italy provincial location map 2016.svg
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Location of Tivoli in Lazio
Italy Lazio location map.svg
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Tivoli (Lazio)
Coordinates: 41°57′35″N12°47′53″E / 41.95972°N 12.79806°E / 41.95972; 12.79806 Coordinates: 41°57′35″N12°47′53″E / 41.95972°N 12.79806°E / 41.95972; 12.79806
Country Italy
Region Lazio
Metropolitan city Rome (RM)
Roman establishment338 BC
  Total68.65 km2 (26.51 sq mi)
235 m (771 ft)
 (31 October 2021) [2]
  Density800/km2 (2,100/sq mi)
Demonym Tiburtini
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code 0774
Patron saint San Lorenzo
Saint day10 August
Website Official website
Waterfall in Villa Gregoriana Cascata 9907 1.jpg
Waterfall in Villa Gregoriana

Tivoli ( /ˈtɪvəli/ TIV-ə-lee, Italian:  [ˈtiːvoli] ; Latin : Tibur) is a town and comune in Lazio, central Italy, 30 kilometres (19 miles) north-east of Rome, at the falls of the Aniene river where it issues from the Sabine hills. The city offers a wide view over the Roman Campagna.



Gaius Julius Solinus cites Cato the Elder's lost Origines for the story that the city was founded by Catillus the Arcadian, a son of Amphiaraus, who came there having escaped the slaughter at Thebes, Greece. Catillus and his three sons Tiburtus, Coras, and Catillus [lower-roman 1] drove out the Siculi from the Aniene plateau and founded a city they named Tibur in honor of Tiburtus. [3] According to another account, Tibur was a colony of Alba Longa. Historical traces of settlement in the area date back to the thirteenth century BC. Tibur may share a common root with the river Tiber and the Latin praenomen Tiberius . [4]

From Etruscan times Tibur, a Sabine city, was the seat of the Tiburtine Sibyl. There are two small temples above the falls, the rotunda traditionally associated with Vesta and the rectangular one with the Sibyl of Tibur, whom Varro calls Albunea , the water nymph who was worshipped on the banks of the Anio as a tenth Sibyl added to the nine mentioned by the Greek writers. In the nearby woods, Faunus had a sacred grove. During the Roman age Tibur maintained a certain importance, being on the way (the Via Tiburtina, extended as the Via Valeria) that Romans had to follow to cross the mountain regions of the Apennines towards the Abruzzo, the region where lived some of its fiercest enemies such as Volsci, Sabines, and Samnites.

Roman age

At first an independent ally of Rome, Tibur allied itself with the Gauls in 361 BC. Vestiges remain of its defensive walls of this period, in opus quadratum. In 338 BC, however, Tibur was defeated and absorbed by the Romans. The city acquired Roman citizenship in 90 BC and became a resort area famed for its beauty and its good water, and was enriched by many Roman villas. The most famous one, of which the ruins remain, is the Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Villa). Maecenas and Augustus also had villas at Tibur, and the poet Horace had a modest villa: he and Catullus and Statius all mention Tibur in their poems. In 273, Zenobia, the captive queen of Palmyra, was assigned a residence here by the Emperor Aurelian. The second-century temple of Hercules Victor is being excavated. The present Piazza del Duomo occupies the Roman forum.

The name of the city came to be used in diminutive form as Tiburi instead of Tibur and so transformed through Tibori to Tiboli and finally to Tivoli.[ citation needed ] Its inhabitants, however, are still called Tiburtini and not Tivolesi.

In 547, in the course of the Gothic War, the city was fortified by the Byzantine general Belisarius, but was later destroyed by Totila's army. After the end of the war it became a Byzantine duchy, later absorbed into the Patrimony of St. Peter. After Italy was conquered by Charlemagne, Tivoli was under the authority of a count, representing the emperor.

Roman gentes with origins in Tibur

Middle Ages

From the tenth century onwards, Tivoli, as an independent commune governed by its elected consuls, was the fiercest rival of Rome in the struggle for the control over the impoverished central Lazio. Emperor Otto III conquered it in 1001, and Tivoli fell under the papal control. Tivoli however managed to keep a level of independence until the 15th century: symbols of the city's strength were the Palace of Arengo, the Torre del Comune and the church of St. Michael, all built in this period, as well as the new line of walls (authorized in 1155), needed to house the increasing population. Reminders of the internal turbulence of communal life are the tower houses that may be seen in Vicolo dei Ferri, Via di Postera, Via del Seminario and Via del Colle.

In the 13th century Rome imposed a tribute on the city, and gave itself the right to appoint a count to govern it in conjunction with the local consuls. In the fourteenth century, Tivoli sided with the Guelphs and strongly supported Urban VI against Antipope Clement VII. King Ladislaus of Naples was twice repulsed from the city, as was the famous condottiero Braccio da Montone.

In the city there was also a Jewish community. [5] [6]

The castle of Rocca Pia, built in 1461 by Pope Pius II. Rocca.pia.castle.in.tivoli.arp.jpg
The castle of Rocca Pia, built in 1461 by Pope Pius II.
The old town. Tivoli2011 09.jpg
The old town.


During the Renaissance, popes and cardinals did not limit their embellishment program to Rome; they also erected buildings in Tivoli. In 1461 Pope Pius II built the massive Rocca Pia to control the always restive population, and as a symbol of the permanence of papal temporal power here.

From the sixteenth century the city saw further construction of villas. The most famous of these is the Villa d'Este, a World Heritage Site, whose construction was started in 1550 by Pirro Ligorio for Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este and which was richly decorated with an ambitious program of frescoes by famous painters of late Roman Mannerism, such Girolamo Muziano, Livio Agresti (a member of the "Forlì painting school") or Federico Zuccari. In 1527 Tivoli was sacked by bands of the supporters of the emperor and the Colonna, important archives being destroyed during the attack. In 1547 it was again occupied, by the Duke of Alba in a war against Paul IV, and in 1744 by the Austrians.

In 1835 Pope Gregory XVI added the Villa Gregoriana, a villa complex pivoting around the Aniene's falls. The "Great Waterfall" was created through a tunnel in the Monte Catillo, to give an outlet to the waters of the Aniene sufficient to preserve the city from inundations like the devastating flood of 1826.

Modern times

In 1944, Tivoli suffered heavy damage under an Allied bombing, which destroyed the Jesuit Church of Jesus. [7]



Tivoli has a Mediterranean climate with warm and dry summers and cool and wet winters.

Climate data for Tivoli
Average high °C (°F)12.3
Average low °C (°F)1.9
Average precipitation mm (inches)74
Source: [8]

Main sights

Theatre of Hercules Victor Theatre of Hercules Victor.jpg
Theatre of Hercules Victor
Temple of Hercules Victor Tivoli s Ercole - il fantasma del tempio sorveglia la pianura P1120656.jpg
Temple of Hercules Victor
Upper part of the Temple of the Tosse. Tempio della Tosse 6.JPG
Upper part of the Temple of the Tosse.
Apse of the roman basilica of the Forum Tivoli - Duomo, abside della basilica del Foro P1120799.jpg
Apse of the roman basilica of the Forum

Archaeological sites

  • Roman amphitheatre
  • Cryptoporticus (below Piazza Tani);
  • Mensa Ponderaria and Sacello di Augusto;
  • Roman age bridge (Viale Roma);
  • Ponte Lucano and Plauzi Mausoleum;
  • Porta Maior (Via del Colle);
  • Circular Temple of Vesta on the acropolis, (probably of the Sibyl)
  • Rectangular Temple of "Tiburtine Sibyl" (probably of Tiburno). It was built in the second century BC on an artificial platform in the acropolis. Characterized by Ionic columns (only two of which remain today), it measures 15.90 by 9.15 metres (52.2 by 30.0 ft). The interior was decorated by frescoes and stuccoes, now lost.
  • Sanctuary of Hercules Victor (second century BC) was one of the largest structures in central Italy at the time, and was located outside the ancient city, across the road leading to Samnium. Measuring 188 by 140 metres (617 by 459 ft), it included a theatre, a large porticoed square and the temple. It was reached through a series of terraces, in a similar fashion to the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia in Palestrina. The sanctuary also housed one of the more frequented council of musicians in Roman Italy.
  • Tomb of the Vestal Virgin Cossinia; [9]
  • Hadrian's Villa, Unesco World Heritage
  • Villa of the Pisoni;
  • Villa known as of Brutus; 1km south of Tivoli centre on the road to San Gregorio are the remains of this large terraced late Republican villa supported by double cryptoportici around a central area of several spacious rooms. Many fountains were used in the design.
  • Villa known as of Cassius;
  • Villa of Manlius Vopiscus (Villa Gregoriana);
  • Villa of Quintilius Varus;
  • Roman so-called Temple della Tosse, located on the ancient via Tiburtina near the Temple of Hercules and the Villa d'Este. It is a circular structure with a hole in the 12-metre (39 ft) diameter dome. From the discovery of a plaque it seems that the building was built in the first half of the fourth century during the reign of Constantine I, on the ruins of a Roman villa of the first century BC, to commemorate the works carried out on the Via Tiburtina. Several hypotheses have been advanced, including that it was a nymphaeum, a temple dedicated to Venus or the Sun or a tomb of the gens Tuscia, from which the current name would later derive. The dome is similar to that of the Pantheon (i.e. with an oculus). The central brick body is divided into two levels, one older on which the entrances were located, the other above on which there are three large rectangular niches and four semicircular niches. In ancient times it was covered with marble, as evidenced by the fixing holes. It rests on a base of opus reticulatum of the villa from the 1st century BC and of reused material from ancient buildings.
  • Roman basilica of the forum in the cathedral

Other Sites

Economy and infrastructure

Tivoli's quarries produce travertine, a particular white calcium-carbonate rock used in building most Roman monuments. The water power of the falls supplies some of the electricity that lights Rome. The slopes of the neighbouring hills are covered with olives, vineyards and gardens; the most important local industry is the manufacture of paper.


Tivoli's reputation as a stylish resort and the fame of the gardens of the Villa d'Este have inspired the naming of other sites after Tivoli: for example, the Jardin de Tivoli, Paris (France) and the Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Copenhagen (Denmark). The Wörlitz Synagogue in the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm (Germany) is a replica of the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli. [10]

Notable people


  1. In the Aeneid , Virgil makes Coras and the younger Catillus twin brothers and the leaders of a Tiburtine military force in support of Turnus.

Related Research Articles

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There are two Catilli in Roman legend:

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  1. "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, vol. II, pp. 1200–1205 ("Tibur").
  4. Chase, "The Origin of Roman Praenomina", p. 154.
  5. Lazio Itinerari ebraici.
  6. Sebastiani, Viaggio a Tivoli, p. 108.
  7. Seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Tivoli. In Italian.
  8. "Tivoli historic weather averages in Italy". Intellicast. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
  9. "Tivoli - Tomb of the Vestal Virgin Cossinia".
  10. Wischnitzer, Architecture of the European Synagogue, pp. 158, 159.


Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Tivoli". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Wikisource-logo.svg Tivoli ., a poem by Letitia Elizabeth Landon published in The Bijou annual for 1829 to accompany an engraving of 'The Cascade of Tivoli', a painting by Henning.