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Treks and frustrations through a secret garden

Treks and frustrations through a secret garden

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles (Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden)…”

 Saturday was a day of treks, tribulations, and gorgeous fountains and gardens.  This was the day that four of us went to the small city of Tivoli, an hour east of Rome by train. While I am tempted to write mainly about our frustrations, as they again have to do with the transportation system, I will spare all of you from another round of disguised venting, and focus on the beauty of the Villa d’Este at Tivoli.  I will preface the following by saying that it took us quite a bit longer than it should have to find Villa d’Este, thanks to following a disjointed system of street signs, and that getting back to Rome was even more of an oh-so wonderful adventure thanks to the trains.

 Our trip was estimated to take one hour, but after only half an hour, we saw a sign indicating a stop for Bagni di Tivoli.  With the encouragement and assurance from an elderly Italian woman that this was our stop, we got off the train behind her.  While slowly, slowly, slowly walking behind her, we had plenty of time to look around at our destination.  Good thing, too, because one of my friends noticed a map of the train stops and decided to look at it.  She let out a loud gasp and yelled, “this isn’t our stop!” and so we all rushed back onto the train, which was miraculously still waiting.  The conductor must have secretly known that a group of American girls would be on board and to be prepared for their delirious behavior.  Our actual stop, that was called strictly Tivoli, was another six stops so we were extremely lucky our faux pas was not a major one, otherwise we would have spent a day looking at cows.  

 Once at Tivoli, the real Tivoli, we hopped off the train and wandered uphill to find the Villa d’Este.  After arriving at our destination, we paid the eleven-euro entrance fee and went to explore.  The start of our journey led us in the actual home, where we saw paintings after paintings on the walls, on the ceilings, everywhere!  While the home was historical and interesting to look at, we were mainly here for the fountains.  We meandered our way out of the house and onto one of the balconies overlooking the entire grounds.  Below us was a massive property where we could see fountains, trees, hedges, and many staircases.

 Walking between the high hedges, among the trees and greenery, I felt like I was walking in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden.  Though, of course, this one was unfortunately full of people and did not have a robin always sitting in the tree.  Nevertheless, I tried to block everyone out of my mind and the four of us traipsed about in our secret garden.  The fountains were spectacular: huge, intricate, and just plain breathtaking.  At one point, we came across a whole wall full of fountains against a backdrop of veins.  Though I am not sure, it seemed there must have been around hundred tiny fountains along this wall.  Some of the staircases even had a small waterfall-like fountain embedded in the handrail.  There were secret pathways everywhere, leading to more fountains and more stunning views.  We saw statues of Poseidon, our founders Romulus and Remus, the Holy Mary, and Pegasus.  I could have stayed in that garden forever.  All I wanted at that moment was a book and hours upon hours of free time to just sit, read, and relax. 

Soon, however, we decided that we were starving at that it was time to find a place for lunch.  We didn’t have to walk too far before we found a quaint place right across from a crêpe stand.  Everything we ordered was marvelous.  The best part being that they had pasta celiaca for me and it was absolutely scrumptious.  We paired that lunch with some crêpe, and for me gelato, and our day seemed complete. We made our way back to the train station and from there had a “great” time getting back.  I shall end here, simply because I do not want to ruin the mood of our day.  The important thing was that we made it back to the JFRC in one piece and in time for mensa. 

 “If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett).”

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