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Shell House Showcase: Villa d'Este, Italy

Villa d'Este sits in the town of Tivoli within the Lazio Region of Italy and is one of the stunning locations which we visited during our 2018 Italian Garden Tour.


In this blog, we are going to focus on the villa’s interior which contains many richly decorated grotto niches. Each room has a water feature that provides a thematic link with its famous garden of fountains.


The Hall of the Fountain was a reception area - the central feature is a wall grotto covered in shards of glass, shells and semi-precious stones. Here we see a general use of carved shell imagery – walls, fonts, niches – with some natural shells incorporated. The Hall of the Fountain was decorated by Girolamo Muziano c.1565-70.


The artist’s use of grotto niches and shell architectural motifs connects with a covered loggia that leads to the outside upper terrace. Its walls also have rusticated grotto fountains with shell hoods and carved festoons of fruit and shells.




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