The best views of St Peters Dome

Head to Via Niccolò Piccolomini and if you reach the street coming from Villa Doria Pamphili, the dome looks huge, then ‘shrinks’ as you move towards it, thanks to a strange optical illusion.

Also try the top of the Aventine Hill, next to one of the city’s most beautiful examples of early Christian architecture, Santa Sabina. Look out for the Villa del Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta and peek through its keyhole to line up perfectly with an avenue of trees and the distant St Peter’s. The trees are from the gardens of the Knights of Malta, one of the last surviving orders of knights from the crusades. With its HQ now in Rome, the Italian state recognises its sovereignty, so there are actually three nations within the city: Italy, the Vatican and the Knights of Malta. The latter is the world’s tiniest state, confined to the villa on the Aventine and a palace on Via Condotti. The most romantic view is from the Giardino degli Aranci (or Parco Savello), behind Santa Sabina. Local cats play amid orange trees – unbeatable views over the river to Trastevere and St Peter’s.

Fact file

Villa del Priorato dei
Cavalieri di Malta
Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta

Giardino degli Aranci
Via di Santa Sabina

Getting there
Metro Circo Massimo (linea B);
bus 23, 44, 95, 170, 280, 716