After the chaos, traffic and noise of centro Roma, head to Aventine Hill for a wonderful break. Getting there is a little bit of a challenge (an uphill walk) but once you’re there, you’ll be glad you came. It’s quiet, peaceful, pleasantly calm, and gives you great views of the city.
As you reach the crest of Aventine Hill, you’ll first come upon the Giardino degli Aranci – also called Parco Savello. This “Garden of Oranges” gives you great views of the city, the river, and St. Peter’s in the distance. The little park has orange trees, lemon trees, and roses… and an incredible overlook. Many Italians come here for picnics and it’s known as a place where young men propose marriage! Surrounded by the incredible beauty and stunning views of the city, you can understand why – Go at dusk for the most “romantic” views.
The park is right next to the church of Santa Sabina. It is an early 5th century basilica in a classical rectangular plan. It is modest inside, consistent with the beauty of the park and streets it sits on. This quaint church with its simple interior is certainly worth a visit!
Exit from the church, go to your right and continue to head along the road to the end of the street. You’ll find yourself at one of the lesser-known visitor spots in the city: The Keyhole of Malta. The green doors on your right represent the headquarters of the Knight of Malta and if you go peer through the Keyhole, you get a wonderful surprise – and an amazing picture (if you can get your camera to work!).
Aventine offers many of these surprises. Beautiful homes, quiet gardens, great views, and on a Sunday afternoon after your picnic, you’ll feel like you’re not even in Rome – what a contrast!
To get to Aventine, take a bus to the Greca stop, just around the corner from the Bocca della Verita (The mouth of Truth) at the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. These buses all stop at the Greca stop: 81, 122, 160, 175, 628, and 715. On Sundays, when the road in front of the Colosseo is closed, the 85 and 87 are both re-directed and they stop here – but only on Sundays! In the map below, the blue marker is the bus stop; the red marker denotes the crest of Aventine Hill.
Jump off the bus and start climbing! Bear right, just past the bus stop on Clivo del Publicii and walk alongside the wall on your right. Just keep walking and you’ll first come upon the Garden of Oranges on your right, then Santa Sabina, and finally at the end of the street, the Keyhole of Malta.
Walking down the hill, you can head back the way you came, or go in the opposite direction and see some of the beautiful single-residence homes that make up this hill – many occupied by Ambassadors from foreign countries. Yes, this is now a high-rent district! On the far side of Aventine, heading away from Rome is Testaccio, a wonderful neighborhood, formerly the meat-packing section of town. There are many great, non-touristy restaurants in this part of town.
If you come back through the hill towards the Circo Massimo and Palatine Hill, you’ll come by the Municipal Rose Garden, one of the most beautiful in the world. This “garden” sits on a hill that formerly was used as a Jewish cemetery from 1645 to 1934. Since 1950 this area has celebrated Spring each year with incredible colors on a hill overlooking Circo Massimo and the Palatine. If you’re here in the early summer, it’s also worth a visit!
If you are interested in Luxury Travel Advice, Information, and Support…
Please contact me, Ron in Rome, at Ron Phillips Travel
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