3 nations through 1 keyhole

High up on Aventine Hill, overlooking Rome, lies a most unusual villa. It is the Villa del Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta, belonging to the Knights of Malta, otherwise known as the Knights of St. John Hospitaler.

Villa del Priorato di Malta, I Cavalieri di Malta, Rome, Italy, travel, travelogue, photography, keyhole, Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney

What makes it unusual is that the grounds of this ancient military order’s villa are recognized by the state of Italy as a sovereign nation. The villa serves as embassy for the Order of Malta to Italy and the Holy See. Three separate nations and three national capitals exist side by side within the boundaries of the city of Rome – Italy, the Vatican and the Knights of Malta.

More unusual still, you can view all three nations through one single keyhole, and that keyhole is found in the door to this villa.

Villa del Priorato di Malta, I Cavalieri di Malta, Rome, Italy, travel, travelogue, photography, keyhole, Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney

As you peer through the tiny peephole your eye traces its way along an elegant tree-lined pathway in the grounds of the villa…

Villa del Priorato di Malta, I Cavalieri di Malta, Rome, Italy, travel, travelogue, photography, keyhole, Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney

…across Rome, to the dome of St. Peter’s basilica in Vatican City, in perfect alignment with the neatly manicured cypress hedges and the keyhole.

Villa del Priorato di Malta, I Cavalieri di Malta, Rome, Italy, travel, travelogue, photography, keyhole, Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney

Now that’s what I call a view!

If you would like to see it for yourself, the villa is located on the top of Aventine Hill along Via di Santa Sabina at the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta.

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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59 Responses to 3 nations through 1 keyhole

  1. I glimpsed through this keyhole in November last year – didn’t get such a good shot as you though! Such a perfect view…

  2. Heyjude says:

    How unusual. Can you actually go into the grounds? Or are you limited to peeping?

  3. Sas says:

    I learnt a lot about the Knights of St John when I worked in Rhodes. Great post 🙂

  4. restlessjo says:

    Where’s my passport? 🙂

  5. suej says:

    Fantastic! That’s what you call a view, and I call a glimpse of history….

  6. Colline says:

    Love the shot through the keyhole.

  7. sued51 says:

    That’s amazing and VERY cool! Lovely shot…

  8. sueslaght says:

    What a fabulous and intriguing shot. Love it!

  9. Wonderful! I want to go there now and peep through the keyhole. Intriguing indeed. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Amy says:

    Best shot of the best shot of the dome of St. Peter’s basilica.

  11. thirdeyemom says:

    Just gorgeous shots Ailsa! 🙂 Love them all.

  12. subhadeep says:

    nice framing !

  13. Tienny says:

    I love the keyhole photo

  14. sudapoedia47 says:

    So much more to Rome. One lives & learns

  15. What a wonderful post, filled with knights and magical keyholes. Those photos are stunning, what an amazing place. Did you know about the view before peeping….or was it a delightful surprise?

    • ailsapm says:

      I’d heard of it before, and a chap sitting on the airplane next to me reminded me of it, but even knowing about it, there’s nothing that can quite prepare you for the gorgeous sight that unfolds through that tiny keyhole, it’s breathtaking. xxx

  16. Max510 says:

    Great shots Ailsa.
    In Italy it is saying “get on the Aventine” to protest against something or someone…
    It derives from ancient Rome where the plebeians with drew to protest the oppression of patricians while in the modern era refers to fascist tragedy with reference to abstain from parliamentary to a group of opposition in protest against fascism, following the murder of Socialist Deputy G. Matteotti (1924)

    Hope you understand the bad translation mixed with google 😀

    • ailsapm says:

      I never knew that, Max, thanks for the insider tip, I shall remember that phrase ‘get on the Aventine’ and bring it up in conversation sometime in the future, people will wonder how I know this stuff! 🙂 xxx Ailsa

  17. A most wonderful perspective on the world!

  18. lanceleuven says:

    I’d never heard of this. What a fascinating place.

  19. Know-All says:

    Wow! this is awesome! never heard of anything like this before!

  20. Pamela says:

    I’m going, I’m going. I’M GOING!!

  21. Just come back from Delhi, but now Italy is on my list too! Great write-up! 😀 http://backpackerlee.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/the-peacocks-of-the-lodhi-gardens/

  22. Lucid Gypsy says:

    That’s amazing Ailsa!

  23. ilargia64 says:

    Fascinant!!! I have been in Roma once…A pity I did not know about it….Next time, it will be one of the first places!!! Thanks a lot for sharing it!!!!

  24. thephotoseye says:

    This is absolutely one of the best spots in Rome. Great shots!

  25. Petal & Pins says:

    I liked this post yesterday and tonight I went to see the film The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentio and there is a scene at night when the main character gets taken through that door and walks into that vista. Serendipity!

  26. DagEnDauw says:

    I wrote the adress in my notebook, just in case 😉
    Thanks Ailsa.

  27. Just Rod says:

    Fascinating ost and brilliant photograph.

  28. Shipra says:

    Great pictures. well written.

  29. Madhu says:

    Fascinating!! I have to go look through that keyhole! 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      Definitely, Madhu. Even if you know what’s coming, the sight of that perfectly aligned view is just stunning. xxx Ailsa

  30. Very cool, Ailsa. 🙂

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