If you want to spend a day immersed in nature to escape the chaos that surrounds Rome daily, or if you want to visit a quiet area full of sacred sites, we recommend going to Aventine Hill, known for its medieval churches such as Santa Sabina, a well-preserved early Christian basilica. Among churches in Rome, this one is one worth visiting. The name of the church is probably due to a rich Roman matron, the Sabina, who lived in the fourth century and converted to Christianity.
Over the centuries, the building has undergone heavy renovations. It is accessed through a wonderful portal of cypress wood panels that represent episodes from the Old and New Testament. Inside, the visitor is presented with a typical basilica with three naves and twenty-four Corinthian fluted columns. Of the decorations from the fifth century, only a band mosaic remains, with a golden inscription on a cyan background. Recently, the restoration work has brought to light a wall painting depicting the Virgin and Child flanked on one side by the saints Peter and Paul, and on the other, Santa Sabina and Santa Serafia.
In 1219, Pope Honorius III gifted the church to San Domenico for his Order and on that occasion, the cloister and the bell tower were built. In memory of San Domenico are two related curiosities: it is said that in the cloister a sweet orange tree was planted by the saint in 1220; it is visible from the church through a hole in the wall, protected by a glass in front of the wooden door. It is considered miraculous because it continues to bear fruit, many different generations having grown from the original roots. The second curiosity is the story of Lapis Diaboli, a round black stone on a spiral column to the left of the wooden door entrance. According to the legend, it was thrown by the devil at Domenico one night while praying. It missed him and instead hit the marble slab that covered the bones of some martyrs, shattering it.
Many other sacred medieval places can be visited on the Aventine Hill, such as the churches of St. Anselm, Santa Prisca, St. Alexis, Santa Balbina and the Roseto Comunale with its 10,000 square feet of pure beauty. There is also the Garden of Orange Trees, from which you can enjoy a picturesque view.
Another little surprise is the famous keyhole of the door of the Priory of the Knights of Malta. Located part the Giardino degli Aranci is the villa of the Priory; if the door to the villa is closed, you will surely find of people lining up to look through the keyhole at the dome of St. Peter. The view is exciting both in the day and at night because it’s a game of perspective!
Photos by Dnalor01, Tango7174, Lalupa and MarkusMark from Wikimedia Creative Commons