Walking in Villa Gregoriana

Coming from the historical centre, just passing the Gregorian Bridge, rebuilt like the original after the bombing of 1944 and erected by Gregory XVI in 1826, we find "Villa Gregoriana" Park on its left. Under a dense forest of gigantic and dark trees, near sombre and massive vestiges of ancient constructions, on the edge of frightening depths, inside hard rocks and steep crags, in the middle of green, small clearings gloriously lit by the sun, myrtles lanes, craggy paths, steep alleys, eroded flights of steps and small tunnels, wind and find their way, leading the visitor to the discovery of the most varied and unexpected visions. In the upper paths, there is a number of ancient memorial tablets, found during the excavations to create the two Gregorian underground passages, as well as some archaeological finds like columns and parts of statues from the near necropolis, once located in the little public garden overlooking the circular flower bed in front of Villa Gregoriana.
Today, the number of such memorial tablets - once very numerous -are now very few because they have been stolen or removed to other destinations. If we proceed down to the right, just after the entrance, following the correct signs, we arrive to the end of the underground passages, where the river hurls down to form the great fall, 120 mts. high.

Ingrandisce foto A view of the great waterfall

Once that the water is let in, the fall appears to be horrid and enchanting at the same time, and it is among the most interesting in the World for the magnificent picture offered by the surrounding natural beauties. About 10 meters below, going along an impassable path, it is possible to reach the so-called "Ferro di Cavallo" (Horseshoe), made up by a little terrace, that juts out on the great water fall in a frightful way. From this point, we can admire the whirling mass of water that seems to give the impression that it is falling on the heads of people who are watching it, between a deafening roar and the deep point where the waves land underneath, between a cloud of white mist.

Coming back and descending to the central part of the Park, we come across the Stipa Channel that was used in the past during the floods as an outlet arm of the Aniene river; then, we find the "Grotta di Nettuno" (Neptune Cave) and the "Grotta delle Sirene" (Sirens Cave), opened in the course of many centuries by the violent and strong Aniene waters that slowly corroded the rocks that still today reveal visions of impressing chasms to the visitor's eyes. The Neptune Cave is reachable through the Miollis Path, a tunnel in the heart of the rocks dug out by the French General, Governor of Rome, in 1809. In order to illuminate this path, Miollis had some window-openings built from which it was possible to bring in some light to watch the magnificent external landscape. But afterwards, in 1836, after the opening of the Gregorian underground passages, which diverted the course of the Aniene river towards the great artificial falls, a collapse occurred during the night between the 5th and the 6th of February. Cardinal Rivarola decided to open a flight of stairs and was the one who, among other things, ordered many different varieties of plants to be put in the garden of "Villa Gregoriana".

Ingrandisce foto Miollis path

The name "Grotta delle Sirene" (Sirens Cave) was given by the painter Ducros, a famous landscapist; this artist, admiring the extraordinary and unique scenario of the rocks standing in this cave, located at the foot of the horrid and in which the waters coming from the Neptune Cave and from the Stipa Cascade fall, was led to imagine them as a fantastic place, inhabited by those splendid marine creatures that the legendary Sirens are. In order to avoid the eventuality that the "Grotta delle Sirene" would have the same fate as the Neptune Cave (the collapse occurred three years before), a wall was built in 1839 with the aim to strengthen it.

Above the Sirens Cave we can observe a natural bridge called "Ponte Lupo" (Wolf Bridge), that in the past was used by the local inhabitants possibly to move their cattle.
The reason why this place is called this way is not known despite many studies have been done on the subject; anyway, the same name has been given to another aqueduct's bridge located on the border of the San Gregorio da Sassola territory. This last Ponte Lupo is a lot more famous than the one located in Villa Gregoriana, having been painted by the aquarellist E.Roesler Franz who, being grateful for the beautiful gift of the honorary citizenship that he had received from the Municipality of Tivoli, donated it to the City. Still today, such splendid work is displayed in the Palazzo comunale of S.Bernardino.


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Con il patrocinio del Comune di Tivoli, Assessorato al Turismo

Patrocinio Comune di Tivoli

Assessorato al Turismo