Still, this view is a treat, albeit a bit touristy, just as la Bocca della Verità is worth standing on line to take a picture of you with your hand shoved in it's mouth, or how you'll be compelled to "hold up" the Leaning Tower of Pisa while a companion snaps your picture.
The Priory of the Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic religious order of crusader knights that originated in Jerusalem in the 11th century. It is the oldest surviving chivalric order in the world and is a sovereign entity under international law. The estate also hosts the embassy of the Order of Malta to Italy.
The property was constructed in the Piazza Cavalieri di Malta, by Giovan Battista Piranesi in 1765. The Aventine Hill, according to legend, represents a sacred ship setting course toward heaven. There are many nautical elements in the design. For example, the ornamental door is the entrance to this ship's deck, the manicured gardens and trees represented the rigging of the ship.
The property lies in the piazza Cavalieri di Malta, designed by Giovan Battista Piranesi in 1765. According to Roman legend, Aventine Hill was imagined as a sacred ship that would eventually set sail for the heavens, so Piranesi incorporated many nautical elements and symbols into his designs. The ornamental door symbolized the entrance to the ship deck while the manicured gardens within were the ropes and riggings of the ship. Although the position of the door itself and the hedges obviously align with a view of St. Peter's Basilica, the view through the keyhole--although indeed heavenly--was more than likely mere happenstance. Still, some historians claim that Pirasesi purposely aligned the view through the keyhole (curiously, it isn't keyhole shaped at all, but round) to act as a long lens of a sea captain's telescope, foreshortening the view of the dome of St. Peters to look as if it was right at the end of the allée of trees and not miles away, as it really is. Perhaps inferring that the Voyage to Heaven isn't as long as one would think?
While up on the Aventine Hill, pay a visit to the Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Gardens). There you'll find a wonderful park with more amazing views of Rome. Before you enter the gardens, look for a beautiful mask fountain to the left of the gate.
From the Ponte Palatino on the Tiber River, walk up the Via della Greca, the turn rightand continue up the Clivio dei Publicii. You can visit the rose gardens of Roseto di Roma Capitale on the left. A bit further on, bear right onto Via di Santa Sabina, to a small park on the right filled with orange trees, the Giardino degli Aranci. Enjoy the views of Rome. The Church of Santa Savina (next to the park) dates back to 450AD. Continue further along the road to the Piazza Dei Cavalieri di Malta--on the right hand side you will see an old green door with paint is peeling off. If you look through its keyhole, you will see a beautiful tree-lined path and at the end of the path is a framed view of St, Peters Basilica. Plan your visit on a clear, sunny day with blue sky for the best view.