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Hadrian's Villa Annoyances and Directions

(Post 1 of 2)
There's no doubt that the Villa d'Este is the prime attraction in Tivoli, Italy. We enjoyed our visit there (by train and foot) in 1989. But we wanted to make a second trip to Tivoli, to see Hadrian's Villa. It's much harder to get to. (I am not recommending that anyone visit Hadrian's Villa without a specific interest in it; Go to Villa d'Este first, or only.)

The Hadrian's high-season admission is 11 euros for adults, and another 5 for an audioguide. While there was a sign in the ticket booth window saying that summer-theater stage construction limits access to the Large Baths, they actually kept us completely out of the Large Baths and the Praetorium. Worse, the most important and famous 1% of the site, the circular Maritime Theater, has been closed for years of reconstruction. You only get a glimpse through a fence blocking a distant doorway. This was a huge disappointment. (Note that the Canopus, the larger, and perhaps second-most recognizable feature, also involving a body of water, is fully accesible.)

On the plus side, Hadrian's Villa has a large number of substantial olive trees, and thus has more respites of shade, and more benches than most ancient sites in Italy. The small museum has excellent sculpture, and is open, with a touring show in place for Summer, 2014.

We determined to visit, from Rome, on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Rick Steves now recommends the COTRAL bus from the Metro line B/Ponte Mammolo station, for both Tivoli attractions. Partly because most visitors prioritize the Villa d'Este, he suggests taking the #4 or #4X local bus from Tivoli town to see Hadrian's Villa. When leaving Rome, do not use the Metro exit marked “COTRAL”, because you need to first visit the cafe on the lower level to buy your bus tickets. The outdoor multi-platform COTRAL station is virtually unstaffed. The 0.50 Euro self-cleaning toilets are also on the lower level.

If you are willing to walk 1.3 kilometers, it is possible to get off the COTRAL bus before Tivoli, in the town of Villa Adriano and go directly to the excavation. (I mention excavation because if you have to ask for directions, you'll need to say “scavi”, because you are already “at” the town of Villa Adriano!)

While the previously noted here RonInRome site has some very detailed information on getting to Hadrian's Villa, I think his photos may be out of date, and he doesn't take advantage of Google Maps. Here's a little more we learned on the trip: (next post)

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(Post 2 of 2)Note that other websites mentioning that you get off at “Tiburtina” are no help. Almost the entire run of the COTRAL bus is along “Via Tiburtina”! The bus stops have small bus stop signs on a pole, but no names for each stop. (These seem to have been put up after the last Google Street View photos.) You will see a prominent notice (but not Italian words indicating “Welcome to”) that the bus has entered Villa Adriana. You can ring the bell any time after you see that. If you pass the Citroen car dealer or the Post Office, you should definitely get off immediately.

In Street View, you can see the street sign for Via della Serena, which dead-ends on Tiburtina. That's your walk to the Villa. The GPS coordinates of the corner are: (41.955231, 12.767132 ), and a Google Maps link to that corner is

When you open that link, Rome will be to your left and Tivoli to your right. Note that on the road (coming from Rome) your bus has been traveling has just made a sweeping turn and re-merged from a one-way boulevard to a two-lane, two-way road. A Citroen car dealer and just beyond, the Post Office are to the right when travelling towards Tivoli. If you click Street View on that link above's map, the camera is facing East, in the direction of the Rome. The street sign for Via della Serena is right in the middle. Walking up Via della Serena, you'll pass a couple of modest restaurants that look nicer than the convenience stores on Tiburtina. On the other side of Tiburtina, towards Rome, in half-a-block you'll see (even in Street View) a bus shelter against a high wall. That is your stop to go home to Rome. There is a crosswalk nearby, but it's hard to get the traffic to yield to you! There is no bus shelter where you get off on the run towards Tivoli, slightly past Via della Serena. If you swivel Street View to the West, you'll see the Citroen car dealer.

If you zoom out on the Map view, you'll see that you bear left when you reach Via Rosolina. That leads you directly to the first brown “Villa Adriana” monument sign, at Via Galli. Although it is not obvious, via Rosolina ends at Via di Villa Adriana, where you take the 90-degree right, downhill on Via di Villa Adriana, which is not signed. You'll be leaving a (defunct?) garden restaurant on your left. After passing a home on the right with a lovely allée of cypresses, you'll see the huge tour-bus parking lot on your left, and soon, the ticket booth. Here's a Google map of the walking route:

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Tim-thanks for the detailed descriptions! We visited Rome a year and a half ago, and Hadrian's Villa was one of many sights we weren't able to fit in. Between it being December, and the ongoing construction, we might have been greatly disappointed, if we'd gotten there at all by bus/foot. Perhaps the next time we make it to Rome things will have changed considerably, and getting there will be different than what you described, but having your directions as a reference could be a big help.