I was obsessed with the book "The Secret Garden" as a child. All of humanity is drawn towards places that are hidden and unknown, and Rome's keyhole to this enchanting garden that overlooks the city and St. Peters Basilica is no exception.
Located on Rome's Aventine Hill, the gardens are the headquarters of the Knights of Malta. On foot you come to what seems like a dirt parking lot, with two massive forest green doors at the edge. Those doors guard the garden and the keyhole through which you can see three different Roman states. Although we visited during the daytime, I've heard the view at night is equally captivating.
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Rome's "secret garden".
If you happen to take a stroll high up to Aventine Hill by way of via di Santa Sabina, you will find yourself in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. This quaint square is bordered by high walls, lovely engravings and architecture; the most striking of these objects being a large, green wooden door. Known as 'il buco di Roma' or 'hole of Rome' to locals, this famous, out of the way spot draws many tourists (I was lucky enough to visit in the fall, and in the evening, when tourists were a bit more scarce). All one needs to do is put an eye up to the keyhole to see one of the most charming views of Rome - a lush green garden, perfectly framing St Peter's dome in the background. No need for a tour group or reservation. You can discover this unique, 'do not to miss', spot on your own. And, if you are lucky, you may get it all to yourself, at least for a little while.