This is the view that inspired my love affair with Italy.  There is something about my first visit to the Aventine Hill that absolutely transformed my experience in Rome.  The Aventine is under-visited in my opinion.  Located in the southern part of the of the city along the Tiber River and next to the Circus Maximus, the Aventine is one of the seven legendary hills of Rome.  It is a stone’s throw from the bustle of the historic center but the peace and tranquility there makes it feel like it is miles away. There are no shops or restaurants on the hill.  It is primarily residential in addition to several monasteries, embassies, a park and some of the most beautiful churches in Rome. My personal favorite is Santa Sabina. The original church dates back to the 5th century. The original  wooden doors are still in place and one of the panels contains the oldest known depiction of the crucifixion of Christ. Also original are the alabaster windows and, over the door, a part of the mosaic that would have graced the entire interior.



Right next to the church is the Parco di Savello which is never called by its official name but rather is known as the Orange Grove because of the abundant citrus trees that fill the park. The overlook from the park offers a gorgeous view of the city.  But for a view like no other, continue to the end of the street to the Piazza of the Knights of Malta.  Looking through the keyhole brings a surprise in a city that sometimes feels full of cliches.  It is a delightful perspective that I never tire of, even after hundreds of visits.

All that beauty and culture will surely make you hungry. Head down the opposite side of the hill to Testaccio and head to the market or to Velavevodetto, one of the great restaurants in this neighborhood.

Rome is full of beauty, history and art, so much so that it is easy to focus on the “highlights” and never make it to the lesser known corners of the city. To miss the Aventine would be a shame.

8 thoughts on “Undiscovered Italy: The Aventine Hill

  1. Looking forward to exploring this in April, Ashley. Thanks for the insight – I’ve never been there and we’re staying right across the way in Trastevere. Can. Not. Wait.!

  2. Loved your description! Yes, I too recall the first time I peeked thru the keyhole to view the 3 kingdoms. Laura Papallo

  3. Thank you, grazie molto, for your blog. This was a beautiful opening to my morning in frozen upstate New York! Thank you for showing me a view of rome I’ve never seen before. I’m watching "The Italian Americans" on PBS and your blog is the perfect partner to it.

    1. I am glad you are enjoying some Roman warmth on a cold NY day! I have been meaning to check out that program on PBS – thanks for the reminder!

      1. Just read the post from a year ago. My cousins are in the PBS documentary "The Italian American’s". Needless to say it is regularly viewed in our home. I traveled to Italy for an 11 day tour three years ago. At the end when everyone on my tour was departing for the U.S. I rented a car at MalPensa and drove to the mountains to my ancestors’ village of Pievepelago for a family reunion. Sixty four were from the states and in all 325 from Italy, Germany, South Africa, etc. The reunion was at La Madonna di Monticello, the family church. We celebrated with Mass and an incredible chestnut wood roasted pork, sausage and pasta made in the largest pot on a hoist that I’ve ever seen. I hear it was what they use in the Italian army. And, of course, wine. What a monumental trip. Went alone since hubby would never be able to do the walking and felt like I was in the company of 400 new friends and relatives. My cousin Isabella planned a 3 day tour of Tuscany after the reunion which about 35 of us participated in. Maremma .was the area. It was marvelous. I want to go back so badly however at 75 I can’t believe I made that trip alone at 73. But I vow to return, soon . hope.

        1. Judith,
          What an incredible experience you have had! That trip sounds amazing and a true Italian celebration. I hope you have the occasion to visit Italy again. Every time is special.
          Un abbraccio,

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