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.