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.
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.
As you peer through the tiny peephole your eye traces its way along an elegant tree-lined pathway in the grounds of the villa…
…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.
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.
I glimpsed through this keyhole in November last year – didn’t get such a good shot as you though! Such a perfect view…
It’s really stunning, isn’t it, Suzanne?
How unusual. Can you actually go into the grounds? Or are you limited to peeping?
It’s not open to the public although I believe you can apply for a permit to visit – I’ve seen footage filmed inside the gardens and they look amazing.
I shall have to investigate if I ever get to Rome!
Definitely worth a visit, Jude, photos cannot compare to the thrill and mystique of the real view, it’s wonderful. xxx
I learnt a lot about the Knights of St John when I worked in Rhodes. Great post 🙂
They’re fascinating, aren’t they?
Where’s my passport? 🙂
Haha, attagirl! 🙂
It’s a fabulous post from the header down, Ailsa 🙂
Thanks Jo! xxx
Fantastic! That’s what you call a view, and I call a glimpse of history….
Absolutely, Sue. Drenched in history. 🙂
Love the shot through the keyhole.
Thanks Colline, it’s such a charming surprise when you peep through the keyhole and see the beautifully framed view of the basilica.
That’s amazing and VERY cool! Lovely shot…
I just love finding quirky little oddities like this, Sue. 🙂
What a fabulous and intriguing shot. Love it!
Thanks Sue, looking through that keyhole feels like you’re being let in on an awfully big secret, its wonderful. 🙂
Wonderful! I want to go there now and peep through the keyhole. Intriguing indeed. Thanks for sharing!
Glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you get to peep through the keyhole for yourself sometime soon! 🙂
Best shot of the best shot of the dome of St. Peter’s basilica.
Haha, awesome comment, thanks Amy! 😉
Just gorgeous shots Ailsa! 🙂 Love them all.
Thanks Nicole, it’s such a surprise, even if you know what’s coming, to see that stunning cypress walkway with the dome right at the end, it takes your breath away. xxx
Yes that photo you took is a keeper!!!!
nice framing !
I love the keyhole photo
It’s a beautiful sight, Tienny!
Yes, it’s a beautiful sight
So much more to Rome. One lives & learns
I suspect one could spend years there and never stop discovering! 🙂
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?
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
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 😀
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
A most wonderful perspective on the world!
I’d never heard of this. What a fascinating place.
Wow! this is awesome! never heard of anything like this before!
I’m going, I’m going. I’M GOING!!
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/
That’s amazing Ailsa!
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!!!!
This is absolutely one of the best spots in Rome. Great shots!
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!
How perfect, I must watch that movie, thanks for the tip! 🙂
Thanks for yours! Hopefully I’ll get to Rome and look through that keyhole (:
I wrote the adress in my notebook, just in case 😉
If you’re in Rome, this is definitely a must see, Dauw, it’s gorgeous! 🙂
That is a great view 🙂
Fascinating ost and brilliant photograph.
Great pictures. well written.
Fascinating!! I have to go look through that keyhole! 🙂
Definitely, Madhu. Even if you know what’s coming, the sight of that perfectly aligned view is just stunning. xxx Ailsa
Very cool, Ailsa. 🙂