Starting in the 16th-century, Italian gardens became the setting for a wide-ranging phenomenology of water features with their endless repertoire of fountains, sculpted cascades, and playful tricks.

At Villa d’Este each fountain has its special sound effects: from the Fontana dell’Organo to the Fontana della Civetta, from the Fontana dei Draghi to the quiet Peschiere. At Villa Lante in Bagnaia, the sound of running water is at first turbulent, then babbling like a rapidly flowing torrent, to then become calmer in its ideal destination, the Fontana delle Peschiere and dei Mori, creating an Eden-like garden with four water parterres corresponding to the four rivers of Paradise. The central axis of Villa Aldobrandini constitutes a spectacular sculpted cascade set between the Pillars of Hercules, creating a model that would spread across northern-Lazio villas and inspire the water theatres that were later designed during the Baroque period.

In Tivoli the loud crashing of water reached its highpoint during the 19th century when the deviation of the course of the River Aniene started the “cascata grande” of Villa Gregoriana, immortalised in many paintings by famous artists.

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