In Rome, there is a secret keyhole, one that if looked through, holds a secret that should only live in fantasy.
I could not believe what I was seeing. I was crouched down in front of a beautiful white facade with ferns dangling from the top, otherwise quite unassuming compared to the rest of Rome. I squinted with one eye, my tongue poking from my lips as I tried to concentrate on keeping my balance while I peered through what looks like a normal ole’ keyhole in an ornate door.
But there was nothing ordinary about this keyhole.
The door was of metal and wood, painted in a deep forest green that had chipped away in great big chunks leaving it scarred. The keyhole was through an elaborate chunk of metal in the door which fanned out into a flame-like design. Sure, it was interesting, but passing by it I would have never thought something fantastical lay beyond on the other side. Some secret garden with something unbelievable to behold.
Through that keyhole, past the aged and rusting hammered iron, through the blackness of the innards of the door — there was a tunnel of hedges inside a garden, and in the distance as your sight travels through that mysterious garden and its hedge tunnel, you see what had me so astonished.
There it was, Saint Peter’s Basilica far off into the distance, and the keyhole and path of the hedges was a direct line of sight across the entire city of Rome.
Villa del Priorato di Malta is a 10th-century Benedictine Monastery that had been passed down to the Knights Templar, and after their order was destroyed during the inquisition, it passed to the Knights Hospitallers — the predecessor to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Knight of Malta is the oldest surviving order of chivalry, and the villa is one of two locations of the order granted extraterritorial status.
HOW TO FIND IT: If you are looking to check out the Villa Malta, the map is below. To take a good photo it is extremely hard because there may be many people crowded around, also if you have a DSLR, bring a tripod. This photo was taken with my iPhone and I did not even know I had snapped a clear photo after failing with my DSLR.
*This was a stop on one of my Walks of Italy tours. To see other sights from the tour, check them out HERE. As always, my thoughts, reactions, and use of the word “gnarly” are my own*