Not many people know where to find the secret peekaboo spot in Rome that allows you to look from one country, through a second, at a third. What makes this even more magical is that the peephole is the size of a keyhole. Literally.
I learned about this ‘serratura segreta’ (secret keyhole) when I was visiting Rome for the first time as a wide-eyed, twenty-something backpacker. (If that wasn’t enough to make me an obvious target for the attentions of ever-vigilant Italian Romeos, it didn’t hurt that my friend had long blonde hair, too. ‘Nuff said.)
So it was courtesy of one of these local would-be-guides-trying-to-impress that we were escorted to a piazza on the Aventine Hill in front of the gates of the Villa del Priorato di Malta, a sovereign piece of land belonging to the Knights of Malta. And there I was invited to look through the keyhole in the door.
What I saw on the other side was like a storybook illustration of a magical secret garden: a leafy canopied path, at the end of which you could see the Basilica of St. Peter’s in the distance, its dome perfectly framed within the keyhole like some kind of fairytale palace. Beyond this picture-perfect vista, what made this more interesting was that I was literally viewing 3 nations in one eyeful: Italy, Malta, and Vatican City. Impressive indeed.
Twenty-plus years later, it was my turn to play Juliet to my real-life Romeo, as I led my husband up the Aventine hill to this same keyhole. After lining up 3 times to get the photo just right that would capture this very special vista, he succeeding in taking home this little souvenir of what I think is one of the most quirky and romantic spots in Rome.
As we were leaving, we spotted a pair of newlyweds who had literally been married only hours earlier, and had chosen this same spot to take a few pictures of their own. (And they had chosen an equally whimsical ride to boot!)
Apparently we weren’t the only hopeless romantics starting our honeymoon here.
TIP: Getting to this spot by transit is a little tricky, so put on the walking shoes, grab a map and enjoy exploring the Aventino. One of the seven hills of Rome, the Aventino has some pretty gardens and boasts great views overlooking the site of Circus Maximus.
Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established GrownupTravels.com in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.
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