Rome’s Keyhole: A Picture Perfect View

The Eternal City is full of hidden gems. The problem is, they are not always a secret.  Take, for example, the famous keyhole in Rome, Italy:
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 it took me many attempts to finally get a halfway decent photo through Rome’s keyhole (using my iPhone 7 Plus):

Keyhole Rome St. Peter's



The view is well planned.  The strategically placed keyhole in Rome 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.

14 thoughts on “Rome’s Keyhole: A Picture Perfect View

    • Natalie says:

      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! 😉

  1. Andrea says:

    … 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?

  2. Lucy @ La Lingua says:

    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

    • Natalie says:

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

  3. Pingback: The Orange Garden: Rome’s Giardino degli Aranci – An American in Rome


  5. Gary Karr says:

    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. 🙂

  6. Quinn says:

    The only thing I really like about the peephole is pretending that there is something actually x-rated through there that all those men, women, children and families are waiting in line to see. Then it all seems creepy, in a funny way!

  7. Tim says:

    The view inside the gates of the Magistral Villa is even more impressive. Santa Maria in Aventino, the private Church inside the compound is one of the most beautiful in all of Italy.
    The compound started out as a fortified Benedictine monastery in the tenth century. Then the Knights Templar acquired it. When they were merged into the Order of Malta in the early 14th century, we acquired it, and still possess it to this day.

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