Looking for romantic spots in Rome? Seeing St. Peter’s Church through the keyhole of the Priory of the Knight of Malta is one of the most charming views in Rome. Go off the beaten path and head high on the Aventine Hill, to reach a famous and fascinating broad wooden door
Known by most Romans as the “hole of Rome”, the view of St. Peter’s through the keyhole attracts hundreds of visitors everyday. Everyone want to have a glimpse of this beautiful spot and see a garden path that ends with bushes perfectly framing the dome of St. Peter’s!
You don’t need to have a key: you just put an open eye to the keyhole of the huge wooden door and you will see St Peter’s dome (or, as the Romans say, “Cuppolone“, the big Dome) perfectly in perspective, sometimes wrapped in a mysterious mist. It seems to stand at the end of the garden path, just beyond the door you are looking from.
The garden you see beyond the door belongs to the Villa del Priorato di Malta, one of the many properties of the famous Knights of Malta (Cavalieri di Malta). Originally, the area hosted a fortified Palace, which belonged to Alberico II, but in the 10th century it became a Benedictine monastery. The building was later occuped by the Knights Templar, the famous warrior monks and then by the Gerosolimitani (known as The Knights Hospitaller). It was only in the second half of the 1400’s that Pope Paul II granted the monastery to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
As you can imagine, the building has undergone many changing in its structure. At the end of the 1600s, Cardinal Benedict Pamphilj even converted it into a coffee house which, for a brief period of time, became a popular meeting place for artists.
The structure you can admire today is the work of the famous architect and engraver Giovanni Battista Piranesi who restored the building in the second half of the 18th century. Beyond the magical door of the Knights of Malta’s the complex gives shelter to the church of Santa Maria del Priorato and a Villa, whose rooms are filled with portraits and beautiful paintings.