Tivoli is seen from across the gorge of the river Aniene (or 'Anio'), with the Roman 'Campagna' or plain and the city of Rome itself in the distance. To the left, on the cliff edge, is a small cluster of ancient buildings. These include the circular Roman Temple of Vesta, and the rectangular Temple of the Tiburtine Sibyl.
By the first century BC, Tivoli (the classical town of Tibur), was a favourite resort of Rome's wealthier citizens, including the Emperor Augustus and the poet Horace. Wilson's patrons revelled in his ability to produce lyrical evocations of such classical sites.