Peace and Quiet at the Aventine Hill

Aventine Hill (Aventino in Italian) is considered the most beautiful of the Seven Hills of Rome, it's a nice place to relax and rest a little from the bustle of the busy city. Aventine is located on the banks of the Tiber, southwest of the central Palatine Hill. Here you can find the Rosary, the Orange Garden and a great view of Rome. Be sure to check out the churches (or basilicas) and the Keyhole near the residence of the Knights of Malta. 

Legends and History

There are several versions of the origin of the Aventine name. One of the legends tells that, once upon a time, brothers Remus and Romulus, competing with each other, were looking for water. Remus was the first to find the source because the birds (aves) helped and accompanied him. The Aventine Hill was named in their honor.
According to another version, the name came from the word "aventus" translated as "gathering" because locals gathered on the hill to celebrate the feast of the goddess Diana.

But maybe the hill was named after King Aventunis, who was killed by lightning and was buried here, or the name comes from the name of the mythological hero Aventine - the son of Rhea and Hercules. Nobody can say for sure now.

For a long time, only slaves and plebeians lived here. During the reign of Augustus, Aventine became one of the districts of Rome. Under the Emperor Claudius, the hill began to be populated by wealthy townspeople. New buildings and luxurious baths were built. This continued until the capture of Rome by the Visigoths in 410. In the 10th century, Aventine became the most populated part of Rome. Fortified castles grew up next to monasteries and temples. In the XVII century. Aventine Hill has become a fashionable region of Rome, its antique buildings were interspersed with luxurious mansions.

Sightseeing Around Aventine

Gate of San Paolo

The Aventine Hill is rich not only with luxurious mansions but cultural and historical monuments as well, and one of them is the Gate of San Paolo. The building is located in the center of the Aventine Hill. The powerful Porta San Paolo is a small fragment of the wall of Aurelian that was built in the 3rd century.

Pyramid of Gaius Cestius

Opposite the gate there is a pyramid - the tomb of Gaius Cestius in the form of irregular pyramid. The height of the tomb reaches 30 m. It is not as ancient as its “brothers” from Egypt or Mexico, but it can boast of its rich historical past. This monument saw the light, according to scientists, in the period between 18-12 BC. The construction of such a monument was associated with a certain tribute to fashion. The rich inhabitant of the Eternal City wished to be buried not somewhere, but in a pyramid, like the Egyptian pharaohs. The aristocrat could afford such a whim, since he was not only immensely rich, but also had a reputation as a hero. Gaius Cestius Epulon took an active part in the campaigns of conquest against the Nubian kingdom. And the pyramid, erected by his order, becomes a kind of personification, an imprint of Nubian traditions.

The Order of Malta and the Keyhole

Porta Lavernale leads to a square named after the Knights of Malta, designed by Piranesi. The residence of the order is located on the square. Tourists cannot get inside, but they are allowed to look at the famous holy Keyhole. Many perceive The Order of Malta as a sovereign state - after all, its estates are endowed with the status of extraterritoriality, that is, they are not subject to the laws of Italy. The Order of Malta has a Constitution, flag, coat of arms and anthem (Ave Crux alba - "Hail White Cross"), issues its own passports, money, stamps and license plates. And we are not talking about souvenirs or toys at all. The passport of the Sovereign Order of Malta is recognized in many countries. 

Here you will find one of the most amazing places in Rome: the Keyhole (shaped by trees), looking into which you can see as many as three states at once: Italy, the Vatican and the Order of Malta. 

The Basilica of Saint Sabina

The building was built at the beginning of the 5th century on the ruins of an antient temple (doors with figured carvings and a fresco decorating the entrance remain from the original appearance of the temple. According to historians - the founder of the Dominican brotherhood was buried in the basilica. 

The Basilica of Saint Prisca

Also worth visiting on the hill is the Basilica of Saint Prisca, which was built to worship the goddess Mitri. Later, the place became home to the parents and relatives of Prisca, a girl who was baptized by Apostol Peter. The child's relics are buried in the chapel underground, where trial Christian services were held. The relics of Santa Prisca are preserved inside the temple.

The Monastery Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino 

Dedicated to Anselm of Canterbury, the church and monastery were designed by Hildebrand de Hemptinne and Fidelis von Stotzingen and built in 1900. There is a gift shop where liquors of the Benedictines as well as books and religious art can be purchased. 

Santa Maria del Priorato 

The church of the Priory of the Knights of Malta on the Aventine Hill in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.

Savello Orange Garden and The Rosary

Behind the walls of the Basilica of Saint Prisca you can find a fountain and then - a small door that leads to the Savello orange garden. Here, surrounded by citrus fruits and other plants, you will also see ancient ruins - the remains of the Savello castle.

There is a big rose garden, with an area of 10.000 sq. m. located nearby. More than 1000 varieties of roses grow on this territory. From the orange garden you can go to the Circus Massimo, an ancient arena where chariot competitions were organized in ancient times.

Getting to the Aventine Hill

Near the Gate of San Paolo on the Aventine Hill, you'll find a kind of transportation hub featuring the Roma Porta San Paolo station that takes you to Ostia, the metro line B Piramide stop, and the Rome Ostiense railway station. The Aventino isn't far from the Trestevere railway station, which is just across the Tiber River.

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