Through the Keyhole

October 14, 2008 / Places
Trust Lisa to (lawfully) get you in to strictly “no public allowed” off-limits places. You’ve been to the Aventine hill, peeked through the famous buco di Roma (Rome’s keyhole) in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, and ooohed at the sight. Go enough times though and you begin to wonder just what is on the other side of the door.

Only a garden, is all … but what a garden! These are the grounds of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St.John of Jerusalem, aka of Rhodes, aka of Malta. It is the second of two independent sovereign states in Rome (the other is the Vatican, to which they are closely connected . . think last line of defense).

While they have also taken up arms more than once in the past 1000 years, for the past hundred and fifty years certainly and for most of their history they have been been exclusively dedicated to care for the sick at their many hospitals . . and to keeping a nice garden obviously. Given their strong connection with the Church, most of the plants here are symbolically important in Christianity: roses, laurel, palms, pomegranate, etc., as well as a majestic cedar of Lebanon.

The garden isn’t big, but the view is spectacular, and you get a chance to finally see what’s on the other side of the door … and to look out of the keyhole for once, to the fun surprise of anyone who at that moment is trying to look in.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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