Tivoli is one of the most popular day trips from Rome. There is a lot going on, from the medieval city to the Hadrian’s Villa, the Renaissance Villa d’Este, and Villa Gregoriana named after Pope Gregory.
There is also special cherries, pears, and grapes from the countryside to try, and great olive oil, too.
And there’s paper.
We first start hearing about Tivoli paper (carta de Tiboli) in the early 1400s from Roman Customs documents. By 1450, Tivoli accounted for 26.4% of paper imported to Rome.
Paper is still being produced today.
But more importantly for you the tourist, there is a small but interesting Museum of the Book inside the Villa d’Este and it’s open every day the Villa D’Este is open.
The museum is world famous for seminars, conferences, and teaching activities related to the study, conservation, restoration and technical/scientific reconstruction of ancient books, but a short visit turns up some interesting things, like a Roman erasable tablet for kids.
The “well” you see was loaded with wax. Roman kids would practice their writing with the pointed stylus. When they didn’t need the writing any more, they could smooth the wax and start over with a “clean slate.”
The Popes were quite fond of Tivoli, so illuminated manuscripts were another use for paper. The way of communicating and storing was quite buggy.
The “carmine” color comes from the ground up, dried carcasses of a cactus eating insect. The dye it produces is called Cochineal. Here it is on paper. It also shows up in food. Yum.
Despite its popularity as a day trip from Rome, there is way more to see in Tivoli than you can see in a reasonable day. We recommend taking a hotel for a night or two if you are interested in seeing all the villas and museums. At a very reasonable price you can get lodging in a small and highly recommended guest house called Affittacamere Il Vecchio Treno near the train station and a reasonable walk from Villa Gregoriana.
You can also compare prices on lodging in Tivoli using the booking box below.