The romantic fascination of Giardino degli Aranci

Rome is the cradle of history, monuments, attractions and it seems to offer every day something more to be visited.

We want to suggest you the Giardino degli Aranci, known as Parco Savello: it is situated on the Aventino hill, in Ripa district and it is the best place for a romantic walk.

From the terrace, you can see one of the best panoramas of the capital, surrounded by the bitter orange trees smell: your eyes will straight from the Tiber to Saint Peter’s Basilica.

As you finish your tour in the park, we suggest you to do something very unusual: you have to look into the keyhole of the Malta’s Knights Order gate.

Legends about Giardino degli Aranci

There are two different legends about the bitter oranges of this famous garden.

The first tells about the Spanish monk Domenico di Guzman, born in Calaruega, property of the Arab hegemony for a long time, as you can see by the different plants and traditions imported there.

Domenico di Guzman got to Rome in 1220 and Pope Onofrio III gave him the monastery on the Aventino hill.

The predicator decided to plant a little tree to remember his mother country.

Tradition says it is the same plant you can still see nowadays by a little hole in the wall of the convent cloister.

This orange tree is considered miraculous: despite the centuries have gone, the tree is still giving flowers.

The second legend tells that, in 1379, Saint Caterina from Siena gave Pope Urban VI the oranges she had collected on Saint Domenico’s tree. The fruits were candied because the Pope, famous for his bad character, could understand that even a bitter citrus could get in something sweet. 

Some historical information about Savello Park

The park is next the Paleo-Christiane Basilica of Santa Sabina and its name comes from Sabelli’family, making those places its stronghold during the period of the imperial revolts, in 1200s.

In 1849, because of its strategic position, these places hosted the Romans defending the Roman Republic, against the French troops at Porta San Pancrazio.

Savello Park, designed by Raffaele De Vico, was built in 1932 and it is also known as the Giardino degli Aranci, because of the numerous bitter orange trees it hosts.

Savello Park

The Giardino degli Aranci has a quadrangular structure and there is an avenue in dedicated to the actor Nino Manfredi in the middle: he loved to spend his free time in the tranquility of the park.

There are three different entrances: the main one is in Pietro d’Illiria square, another one in Via di S. Sabina and the third on the Clivio of Rocca Savella.

In a recess in the surrounding walls, there is a fountain by Antonio Munõz project, built using white and polychromatic marble, granite and travertine, in 1936.

It is made of two parts: a tub of the ancient Roman baths and a monumental mask that probably represents the Ocean God, with its thick moustache and dark eyes.

This second element is a Baroque art example and it was made by Bartolomeo Bassi, according to Giacomo Della Porta dictates, in 1593.

It was originally placed in Campo Vaccino to decorate the grey granite tub, used to water the cows. It was lately moved on the terrace on Leonino Port; it spent some years in the town stores, to be finally moved to the current position, in 1936.

Entering the park, you can admire the remains of the ancient fortress made by Savelli in 1285: the surrounding walls of the Medieval period the drawbridge and the towers.

Santa Sabina basilica

The church was built between 422 and 432 by Pietro d’Illiria where previously the Sabina Matron lived; she was also proclaimed saint, lately.

The church hosted the 1287 conclave to elect the successor of Pope Onorio IV. In 1287, a terrible malaria outbreak affected Rome, killing 6 cardinals. The other clergymen were terrified so escaped from Santa Sabina; the only one remaining there was Cardinal Gerolamo Masci, consequently named Pope Niccolò IV.

Have you seen a column with a black stone on it, next to the door in the church?

It is the so called lapis diaboli, the devil’s stone: according to the legend, the devil himself launched it against Domenico di Guzman while he was praying, destroying the marble covering some martyrs bones.

The tomb was really broken by architect Domenico Fontana, while he was moving the rests of the martyrs to restyle the place, in 1527.

Saint Peter's cupolone by the keyhole

If you have finished your visit at Giardino degli Aranci you can’t miss the Cavalieri di Malta square, where the Malta’s Knights Order Villa is.

It was built where there was a Benedictine monastery in the past, then the Templar Knights inhabited it, followed by the Military Sovereign of the Malta’s Knights Order.  

The Hole is the suggestive view by the house entrance: you can see Saint Peter Basilica, surrounded by the Malta’s Knights Order gardens.

You will probably have to wait for a while, because thousands of people go there to see it, every day: hot, cold, sunny or rainy weather makes no difference, but we can assure you it really deserves to be visited and you will be rewarded by something you have never seen in your life.

So the question is now obvious: is the hole a chance?

The responsible is probably Giovanni Battista Piranesi, during the reestablishment of the entrance ordered by cardinal Rezzonico, in 1765.

Do you want to stay in Rome?

For this location we recommend The Inn At The Roman Forum, a luxury residence in the center of Rome with a modern design.

Giardino degli Aranciaventino hillMaltas Knights OrderBasilica of Santa Sabinsavello parkCavalieri di Malta square

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