Streets of the Aventine

Tiber River @ Rome, Italy, Europe

Take a walk with us as we discover Rick Steves’ Gloryhole of Ancient Rome.

To date, my only exposure to the Aventine was knowing it was a den of thieves where Lucius Vorenus ran around screaming about fucking Concord in the ass.

Lucius Vorenus PIMP
So given my limited understanding of Roman history, when we set out for the Aventine, I expected to see something like this:

HBO Rome Aventine
But instead, we end up seeing something like this:

House @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
I start wondering where the hell it is we are. These aren’t the dirty alleyways Titus Pullo chases old men down for loan money.

House @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
Where are the butcher shops?

House @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
Where are the gambling dens?

House @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
Opium dens?

House @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
I start to forget what it is we were even looking for. The streets of the Aventine are a labyrinth of swank houses.

House @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
It doesn’t feel like we’re in the Bronx anymore at least. The architecture around here is some of the most unique we’ve seen in Rome.

So I’d say it’s more like Queens. Malba perhaps. Just as expensive but a little classier.

House @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
We saw one house had military personnel stationed outside. We peeked through the gate as we walked by. Inside was a metal detector and some privacy gates. A diplomat’s house perhaps?

By now we’re totally lost but we keep walking anyway. A church up ahead appears to be letting out after a wedding. Lots of men in tuxedos and women in ball gowns are emerging. As I recall Catholics take church seriously, being the only Christian sect to bother dressing up for services. So this could have just been a normal Tuesday evening.

Saint Alessio @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
The church had a name (Saint Alessio) but we couldn’t find it on our utterly useless map. Nothing in the Aventine showed up on it because the streets were so dense. We paused to try to get our bearings anyway. At this point we would have been happy just to find the fucking Tiber just as a point of reference.

House @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
We headed left at random. We saw a parking lot ahead and a food truck parked there. How odd, but surely there must be something here to warrant a vendor setting up shop?

We must be going somewhere relevant.

Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino @ Aventine, Rome, Italy, Europe
Then we notice a gaggle of people huddled around a closed set of doors. Each of them is taking a turn peeking through a crack in the door. Since when is voyeurism a tourist attraction?

Aventine Keyhole, Buco di Roma @ Rome, Italy, Europe
Peering through the keyhole, you get a line-of-sight straight to Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

No wonder people are lining up to take a peek. It turns out we stumbled across the Aventine Keyhole at the Priory of the Knights of Malta completely on accident. We’d both heard about it but figured we’d never be able to find it.

But our journey was far from over. We still didn’t know where the hell we were. So we walked past Saint Anselmo’s down some more streets.

Saint Anselmo @ Aventine, Rome, Italy, Europe
My wife explains that the Aventine used to be housing for the plebes but now stands as testament to the dangers of gentrification. You probably won’t get stabbed to death for your cloak while walking the streets of the Aventine but you’ll probably never be able to afford to live there either.

Apartment Graffiti @ Aventine, Rome, Italy, Europe
We start seeing evidence of lower-class activity and figure we must be nearing the outskirts of the Aventine. Speaking of lower-class activity, I need to pee but we haven’t seen a bathroom for miles.

Saint Sabina @ Aventine, Rome, Italy
Back at the main drag, we come across something that looks like Lucius Vorenus’ den of iniquity! Finally, something we think we recognize at the Aventine! We celebrate, take some pictures, dance around trying not to evacuate my bladder and head back to civilization.

Rome @ Italy, Europe
We never realized that building had nothing to do with iniquity; it was just Saint Sabina’s backside we were staring at.

We cross the street and get a good look at the Tiber. We run through some quick numbers as to how many bodies we think have been tossed in there over the ages. It was a question that nobody will ever be able to answer.

Supposedly there is an island in the middle of the Tiber somewhere. On it is a former hospital or nunnery or something.

Tiber River @ Rome, Italy, Europe
Now with some sense of bearing, we head back towards civilization by means of Capitolini Hill. Along the way we see some interesting housing built in the shape of the Colosseum. And I still need to pee.

We stop in every random store we can find. No bathrooms. Eventually I get desperate enough to do it in a bottle in an alleyway while my wife takes point. On a related note, there are no discreet places to urinate in public in Rome. I’m sure there is good reason for this but come the fuck on. Rome is a tourist city with no public bathrooms.

Our journey ends at the Victor Emmanuel Monument once more. I grab a few pictures I couldn’t earlier and we head back to the hotel to wash our disgusting clothes in the shower since Rome is also a tourist city without 24-hour laundromats.

Altar of the Fatherland @ Piazza Venezia, Rome, Italy, Europe


Pro-family and anti-drug, when he's not too busy living with four beautiful ladies, he likes long walks on the beach and poking dead things with sticks.

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