The Knights of Malta gate (Secret St. Peter's view) ☆☆

View of St. Peter's dome through the keyhole, The Knights of Malta gate (Secret St. Peter's view), Rome, Italy (Photo by Angelo Nastri Nacchio)
View of St. Peter's dome through the keyhole

A peek-a-boo view of St. Peter's dome through the keyhole on the gate to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta on Rome's Aventine Hill

View of St. Peter's dome through the keyhole, The Knights of Malta gate (Secret St. Peter's view), Rome, Italy. (Photo by Angelo Nastri Nacchio)
A line to peek into the keyhole on the gate to the Villa del Priorato di Malta on Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, The Knights of Malta gate (Secret St. Peter's view), Rome, Italy. (Photo by Husky)
View of St. Peter's dome through the keyhole, The Knights of Malta gate (Secret St. Peter's view), Rome, Italy. (Photo by Michael Gröning)
The gate to the Villa del Priorato di Malta on Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, The Knights of Malta gate (Secret St. Peter's view), Rome, Italy. (Photo by Lalupa)

Peek through this keyhole on a piazza designed by Piranesi in 1765, and you will see a garden path that ends with bushes perfectly framing the dome of St. Peter's in the distance.

What you are peering though are the gardens of the Villa del Priorato di Malta, one of the Rome properties of the famous Knights of Malta (I Cavalieri di Malta)—who are technically and more correctly called the Knights of St. John Hospitaler.

This is one of the last surviving orders of knights left over from the Crusades. But before you say, "Cool!" and rush off to join, I should warn you they wear rather unbecoming powder-blue uniforms, and they take a vow of chastity.

The knights left their late medieval home on the island of Malta long ago, and their headquarters are now here in Rome (if you're curious, it is at Via Condotti 68, at the corner of Via Bocca di Leone near the Spanish Steps.)

This Aventine villa is actually home to the Order's ambassadors to Italy and the Holy See.

Ambassadors? Yep.

The Italian state recognizes the sovereignty of this ancient Military Order, which mean there are actually three nations—and three national captials—contained within Rome

  • Italy
  • Vatican City
  • The Knights of Malta

» More in Italy's microcountries

Photo gallery
  • View of St. Peter
  • View of St. Peter
  • A line to peek into the keyhole on the gate to the Villa del Priorato di Malta on Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, The Knights of Malta gate (Secret St. Peter's view), Italy (Photo by Husky)
  • View of St. Peter
  • The gate to the Villa del Priorato di Malta on Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, The Knights of Malta gate (Secret St. Peter's view), Italy (Photo by Lalupa)
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Tips

How long does The Knights of Malta gate take?

It takes a whopping 10 seconds per person to peer through the keyhole—add another 2 minutes for you to figure out how to get a picture through it while keeping the dome in focus.

Still, getting here is takes good 20-minute journey each way on foot (so be sure to make it worth your while by seeing the other Aventine sights nearby).

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).

 

Related

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Italy has a number of the world's smallest countries actually contained within its borders, from the hilltown Republic of San Marino to the world's most famous theocracy: Vatican City