Rome’s Keyhole: A Picture Perfect View

Rome is full of hidden gems.

The problem is, they are not always a secret.  Take for example, Rome’s famous keyhole:
Line at Rome's keyhole

Yep. That is the line. To look through a keyhole on the Aventine Hill.

The thing is, it is kind of worth it.  It is worth the walk, because Aventino hill is one of the quietest and nicest neighborhoods in central Rome.  You can pass by ruins, rose gardens, an orange grove. And once you are at the top, the views are incredible.

The keyhole in question is the most famous attraction in the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta.  If you are willing to wait, and/or if you get lucky and there is no crowd, the trick is to shimmy up to the large but nondescript green doors and get your camera ready.

taking photo rome keyhole

Find the brass keyhole and look through it.  You’ll see a garden filled with arched hedges.

2014-09-20 18.29.57

Perfectly framing St. Peter’s Basilica.

view rome keyhole

See? Perfectly outlined?

Ok, ok. I have SEEN this view many times, but I have never managed a decent photo so here is one via AngMoKio at Creative Commons:




The view is well planned.  You are looking through the gates of the church of Santa Maria del Priorato. The church belongs to the Knights of Malta, a Catholic religious order.

You can easily walk to the keyhole from Circo Massimo or Testaccio.  The most common route is up Via di Santa Sabina from the Circus Maximus side.

Happy peeping.


  • Reply Khathy Hoang April 23, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Yay we get to visit your area!!!!!

    • Reply Natalie April 24, 2015 at 12:30 am

      So glad! I love this neighborhood… it’s close to everything, and there are so many thing to see. I wish I was going to be here to show you around but I will see you a few days after! 😉

  • Reply Gililan April 23, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Welcome back! Boo Hackers! (this is also one of my most favorite things in Rome)

    • Reply Natalie April 24, 2015 at 12:29 am

      Yay! And agreed- fantastic for any season. I love taking the stroll.

  • Reply Andrea April 24, 2015 at 3:14 am

    … and when you take this picture you’ve three countries in one photo shot!
    1. Malta (the building and the garden are its territory)
    2. Italy (of course)
    3. the Vatican
    Could you in another city?

  • Reply Lucy @ La Lingua April 26, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Wow, so beautiful! I would never be able to get a photo of that, kudos to the person who did (I reckon they were standing on the other side of the gate haha). And I’m so sorry to hear about the hackers, what a pain! I’ve realised it has been far too long since I’ve read this blog, once my final exams are over I’ll be going back through all the posts I missed 🙂 and then, most likely, I’ll be hopping on a train to Rome before I can say fior di zucca xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua

  • Reply liv April 26, 2015 at 11:59 am

    love this! i need to come back to rome…

    • Reply Natalie May 31, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Always! And I still need to go to Milan… we have Expo tickets, so after the whole wedding thing, ya know?

  • Reply The Orange Garden: Rome’s Giardino degli Aranci – An American in Rome November 11, 2015 at 11:26 am

    […] Rome’s keyhole is known for its amazing view.  Wait in line and you can peek through to see perfectly manicured hedges outlining St. Peter’s Basilica. […]

  • Reply A GUIDE TO FINDING THE MAGIC IN ROME – Simply B March 31, 2017 at 12:39 am

    […] view of Rome makes it definitely worth it. Also, there is a door on top of the hill, known as Rome’s keyhole, where the keyhole perfectly frames the St. Peter’s Basilica. I recommend going at sunset and […]

  • Reply Gary Karr May 16, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I’m staying nearby, and when I went on a recent Saturday morning, I had this keyhole all to myself. You have to get up early (for Italy, anyway) but at roughly 8 a.m., I was the only one in this area. The view is still terrific without the crowds. 🙂

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