A Tourist in Rome - Aventine Keyhole

Location:At the southwestern end of Via di Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill
Metro:A bit of a hike from Circo Massimo, or see it on my To the Forum Boarium and Beyond Walking Tour instead
Time:about 20 minutes
Cost:Free
Hours:Viewable during the day

At the southwestern end of Via di Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill is an off-white 20-foot-tall ornately decorated wall with a large arched green 12-foot-tall door. There is probably a (hopefully short) line of people approaching the door (1st photo below), and every few minutes a van brings more. In that door, at a comfortable eye height, is the Aventine Keyhole. When you look through the keyhole, you are standing on the the independant territory of the Knights of Malta, and looking in the foreground at their beautifully manicured garden behind the doorway. A gravel path lined with bushes guides your eye across the Tiber River to the neighborhood of Trastevere in Rome. And off in the distance, perfectly centered within the keyhole, is the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Therefore you are looking through a tiny keyhole at sights belonging to three countries.

Try your luck at taking a picture of the view through the keyhole, but be warned that it is much more difficult than you might think. When I visited the keyhole, person after person walked away from the keyhole, looking at their phone screen or the back of their camera to see how their picture turned out, and there was nothing. In fact, I went through the line about 5 times, with about 4 quick photos each time, before I obtained the 2nd photo below. It's hard enough to get the camera aligned with the keyhole perfectly enough to see through it, and after that you need to adjust the camera settings manually since the automatic settings are easily fooled by the unusual small spot of light surrounded by dark bushes that comes through the dark keyhole. Good luck with a photo, be sure to enjoy the view with your eye.

    
The wall and doorway in which the Aventine Keyhole is found
See all Aventine Keyhole photos.
    
The view through the Aventine Keyhole
See all Aventine Keyhole photos.
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