The pace of the decoration work for the palace speeded up between 1565 and 1572, the year in which Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este died. Much of the work remained unfinished and many of the fountains for the garden still have to be built. The story of the Villa, however, does not end with the death of its founder, who bequeathed the Villa to the cardinals of the d'Este family.
Cardinal Luigi d’Este (1538–86) inherited the property of his uncle but his financial resources only allowed him to complete the work already started and to carry out a few repairs. After the Villa d’Este was placed at the disposal of the Dean of the Holy College of Cardinals, it returned to another cardinal of the house of Este in 1605, Alessandro (1568–1624).
He wasted no time in starting a huge programme of work, which was not limited to repairing the damages caused by a lack of maintenance on the part of the Deanery but also included many innovations to the layout of the garden and the decoration of the fountains. Particularly notable was the contribution of Gian Lorenzo Bernini under Cardinal Alessandro.
The maintenance, restoration, and layout works (the rotunda of the Cypresses around 1640) continued under the Dukes of Modena, who were related to the House of Este, until 1641.
Cardinal Rinaldo I (1618–72) turned to Bernini (the Fountain of the Bicchierone) in 1660–61 and, starting in 1670, the architect Mattia de Rossi carried out more work, including changes to the palace. The period when the Villa d’Este was abandoned started with Rinaldo II (1655–1736).
The situation worsened when the complex passed into the hands of the Hapsburgs in 1803: the villa suffered long periods of neglect due to the high costs of its upkeep. However, thanks to the work undertaken by Cardinal Gustav von Hohenlohe (1823–96), the villa was saved from what might have been an irreversible loss.
In 1920, with the peace treaty that ended World War I, the Villa d’Este became the property of the Italian State, which initiated a restoration campaign from 1920 to 1930. Several bombs landed on the site during World War II, but repairs made immediately after the war restored the Villa to its previous condition.
Since 2001 Villa d'Este has been recognized as a UNESCO Patrimony.
An impressive complex of buildings which almost looks as if it is one with the surrounding rock...
Patrocinio Comune di Tivoli
Assessorato al Turismo