Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, which was designed by the Venetian printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78), is a rather curious affair. Situated outside the Villa Magistrale (also known as the Villa del Priorato di Malta), which belongs to the Knights of Malta, the walls of the piazza are decorated with a series of bizarre reliefs.
The piazza attracts numerous visitors; however, most come not to admire Piranesi’s work, but to enjoy the famous ‘keyhole’ view of St Peter’s Basilica! If you look through the keyhole of the door to the garden of the Villa Magistrale, you will see in the distance, perfectly framed by a row of hedges, Michelangelo's dome.
In addition to the piazza, Piranesi also designed the church of Santa Maria del Priorato, which stands in the grounds of the villa. The church turned out to be Piranesi's final resting-place.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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