There's no villa at the Villa Gregoriana (Largo Sant'Angelo and Piazza del Tempio di Vesta; 39-06/3996-7701; www.pierreci.it; admission $5) in Tivoli, 22 miles east of Rome—just the ruins of a second-century B.C. Roman consul's mansion once renowned for its garden fountains. The location was a favorite backdrop for artists like Corot and Fragonard because of the Aniene River (which pours over a 394-foot-tall cliff and snakes through limestone grottoes), but it has been off-limits and considered landslide-prone for a decade. Now, after a $5.5 million overhaul led by the Italian Fund for the Environment, this site recently reopened. Crews dragged away tons of litter and blackberry thickets, shored up precipices, and converted a former school into a terra-cottacolored stucco visitors' center, designed by "starchitect" Gae Aulenti. Next on the Fund's to-do list: gentle scrubbings for two travertine-marble ancient temples and pruning in the laurel and oak groves. In the meantime, hikers can explore the grottoes (wear rubber-soled shoes, and remember to duck your head), pausing for views of the temples. —EVE KAHN
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Receive exclusive travel deals, insider tips, inspiration, breaking news updates, and more.