Villa Adriana is the most important Roman villa still visible. The Villa is has a surface of about 80 hectares and was built by Emperor Hadrian to make it his residence away from Rome.
The works of this imposing building started in 117 AD in Tivoli : Hadrian had been very impressed by the oriental culture and classical Greece and conceived the idea of an absolute emperor , ruling on everything and everyone. Thus, he decided to erect a villa away from the crowded and busy ancient Rome.
Villa Adriana was sacked by Totila and was later forgotten and used as a quarry for bricks and marbles for the town of Tivoli.
In the sixteenth century , excavations were started at Hadrian's Villa, on request of Lucrezia Borgia’s son , the governor of Tivoli, with the aim of searching for the countless treasures preserved in the villa , especially statues and mosaics. The work was assigned to the great architect Pirro Ligorio , who wrote the three "Ligorio’s codes" in which he describes his discoveries and the beauty of the Villa.
These " codes " helped to enhance the reputation of Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli and the excavations doubled.
In the seventeenth century, the Bulgarini family , who still owns the Academy at the top floor of the Roman Villa, actively took part in the excavations.
The Barberini Candelabra were found, now preserved in the Vatican Museums in Rome.
In the eighteenth century the villa became the property of Count Fede who planted the cypress trees that can still be seen today. At that time, the wealthy English nobles were willing to spend large sums of money to have in their homes some pieces that belonged to Villa Adriana.
It was only in the late nineteenth century that Hadrian's Villa was bought by the Kingdom of Italy, which began the restoration works.
In 1999, Villa Adriana became one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.