Villa del Priorato di Malta

San Giovanni & Testaccio

Fronting an ornate cypress-shaded piazza, the Roman headquarters of the Sovereign Order of Malta, aka the Cavalieri di Malta (Knights of Malta), boasts one of Rome's most celebrated views. It's not immediately apparent, but look through the keyhole in the villa's green door and you’ll see the dome of St Peter’s Basilica perfectly aligned at the end of a hedge-lined avenue.

Unfortunately that's probably as close as you'll get to entering the building, which can only be accessed with special permission or during rare special openings.

The piazza, which sits on the summit of the Aventino hill, owes its ornamental look to a late 18th-century overhaul by the artist and architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby San Giovanni & Testaccio attractions

1. Basilica di Santa Sabina

0.11 MILES

This solemn basilica, one of Rome's most beautiful early Christian churches, was founded by Peter of Illyria around AD 422. It was enlarged in the 9th…

2. Giardino degli Aranci

0.17 MILES

Officially called the Parco Savello but known to every Roman as the Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden), this walled park is a romantic haven. Head down…

4. Roseto Comunale


Stretched out on the slopes of the Aventine Hill, this idyllic garden boasts more than 1100 of the rarest roses, coaxed into life each spring by a team of…

6. Bocca della Verità

0.37 MILES

A bearded face carved into a giant marble disc, the Bocca della Verità is one of Rome's most popular curiosities. Legend has it that if you put your hand…

7. Tempio di Ercole Vincitore


Dating to the 2nd century BC, the circular Tempio di Ercole Vincitore is the oldest marble temple in Rome. Twenty Corinthian columns surround the compact…

8. Forum Boarium

0.42 MILES

A busy thoroughfare, Piazza Bocca della Verità stands on what was once ancient Rome’s cattle market, the Forum Boarium. Little remains from that period…