Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

First off, thank you Wikipedia for setting me straight on European ancient history and the founding of Rome.

Before October 2015, I had never heard of Palatine Hill or Aventine Hill. I soon learned that Rome grew out of several settlements concentrated in an area recognized in literature and historic documents as the “Seven Hills of Rome”; Palatine and Aventine are among those notorious seven.

The story becomes fuzzy depending on what you read. There is the tumultuous tale of twin brothers – Romulus and Remus – who looked to the gods and omens for approval. The divine winner of a heavenly contest would rule.

As it goes, Romulus and Remus argued over the location of the new city. Romulus was set on Palatine; Remus wanted to build the city on Aventine. The two agreed to settle their argument by testing their abilities as augures at the will of the gods.

Note: Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion of interpreting omens from the observed flight of birds. (Wikipedia)

Auspicious birds (aka Aves) were the messengers and signs of success. In simple terms, the more birds the better!

From the name “Rome”, you can guess who won.

Despite all the rivalry, Aventine Hill would become a thriving part of the celebrated city. Today, the area is a tree-lined urban neighborhood rich in beauty and history. On the hill, you will find elegant homes, palaces, churches, several embassies and a private school.

The ruling religious leaders also found the hill a good match; the Dominicans chose Aventine Hill for the Basilica of Saint Sabine. The Basilica, dating back to the 5th Century is known for its authentic medieval architecture and for its famous resident teacher, Saint Thomas Aquinas. The Benedictines founded Sant’ Anselmo all’Aventino, a Roman Catholic church connected to a monastery and college. When all eyes are often set on the Vatican, it is nice to remember that Rome offers so much more in its treasure chest of iconic religious places.

The Basilica grounds and the adjacent Giardino degli Aranci (Garden of Oranges) are hot spots for spectacular views of the Tiber River and Rome.

I found it lived up to the reputation with an amazing view of Rome day or night; and, better yet, no entrance fees or souvenir peddlers.

Other Aventine Hill area attractions include Circus Maximus, the remains of Rome’s ancient stadium, and a public park featuring over 1000 varieties of roses from around the world.

Amidst the winding streets of this heavenly hill, you will find a welcoming haven of hospitality – Villa San Pio Hotel. The charming boutique hotel is nestled on a quiet street surrounded by historic stately villas.

Villa San Pio is part of the Aventino San Anselmo Hotel group which caters to discerning travelers who prefer a more private, intimate and upscale experience – without the high room rates of comparable hotel properties in the city.

The Villa San Pio hotel is actually a compound consisting of 3 villas which were once private residences. Each of the hotel buildings has been beautifully renovated;  the buildings share a courtyard, gazebo and a serene Mediterranean garden a kaleidoscope of blooming flowers and Italian lemon and orange trees.

The interiors of the villas were restored to traditional elegance. The walls are embellished with warm pastel colors reminiscent of the antique Roman houses with decorative plastering and marble accents. Empire style furniture, oriental carpets, baroque-style bed covers and drapery blend beautifully with the fresco paintings. The bathrooms, dressed in exquisite Carrara marble, are modern and feature both soaking tub and/or shower. Select rooms offer a private balcony, terrace and Jacuzzi tub.

Why this hotel ? Reasons to LOVE:

  • Location: Walking distance to most major attractions. A 10 minute walk to Circus Maximus, 20 minutes to Rome’s Colosseum and 30 minutes to the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona.
  • Savings on transportation. No real need for taxi; hotel is near train and metro stops.
  • Affordable room rates combined with above average amenities
  • Quiet and Safe Environment
  • Beautiful themed rooms with antique design elements
  • Hearty breakfast
  • Aventine Hill’s unique historic finds from the Basilica to Rome’s Rose Garden

“Beyond the Big Attractions” Best Bets:

The “Hole of Rome” part of the Knights of Malta monastery headquarters is just a short walk from the hotel. A broad wooden door holds the magical mystery. A key hole in the door allows visitors, with keen focus and faith, to see St. Peter’s Dome in the distance, perfectly framed by a foreground of greenery. You are sure to delight in this eclectic unique glimpse of Rome. It is a view like no other. Check out my attempt to capture the experience via my smart phone; the image is included in the photo gallery.

The Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth) was a fabulous find despite the lines. The over-sized marble man-like face is located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, which is home to the relics of Saint Valentine. The marble man’s mouth made movie history in the 1953 film Roman Holiday  with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Gregory Peck’s character plays up the myth behind the mouth during heated discussions.

“Tell a lie …Lose a hand”

This lie detector would have been handy device in my last relationship.

Fast Facts:

Location: Aventine Hill – Via Santa Melania 19, 00153 ROME

Metro Stop: Circus Massimo – Line B  ( € 1.50)

Airport Train Connection: Roma Ostiense Station – 2015 Rate only € 8 (10 minute taxi ride from hotel/ 30 minutes to Fiumicino Airport)

Helpful hint: If you are traveling light (which is preferred) you can exit the metro stop and cross the main street, Viale Aventino. Follow Via del Circo Massimo; the ruins will be a visible icon on your right. In less than two blocks, you will take a left at Via della Fonte di Fauno and navigate uphill for about 15 minutes to the hotel. It is a residential area so keep a careful eye. The building blends in with the area homes. I have included a photo of the residential side street, Santa Melania, in the gallery to help you find your way.

  • 78 rooms (4 singles; 59 doubles; 14 triples; 1 quadruple)
  • All rooms have air conditioning and heating.
  • Amenities include: Wi-Fi, satellite television, mini-bar/fridge, hair dryer, and safe
  • Complimentary breakfast buffet

Room Rates: Seasonal.

Average Rate: $100 Euros/$110 US Dollars

Two sister properties can also be found on Aventine Hill. Each offers a unique pampered Roman Holiday experience.

Hotel San Anselmo:  A 4-star luxury property and much pricier option is just minutes from the Villa San Pio and steps away from the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta (Piazza of the Knights of Malta). Romance is the prevailing theme evidenced by endearing room names like “Mille Baci”                     (a million kisses) that help set the mood for love Italian-style.

Hotel Aventino:  A 3-star smaller property, much like Villa San Pio, offers an intimate private manor house atmosphere. Of the 21 rooms, four have balconies. But for the best room in the house, reserve the” Tower” which has a spectacular terrace and a 360° panoramic view of the city.

For rate information, special packages and reservations, visit the official Aventino San Anselmo Hotel Group Website.

 

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