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Roman lie detector: the Bocca della Verità in Santa Maria in Cosmedin

Aventino and Testaccio are neighbourhoods of Rome.

Aventino is named for the hill which rises up near the Tiber river and is one of the legendary seven hills of Rome. Diagonally opposite at the end of Circus Maximus is the Celian Hill, another of the seven hills. Testaccio is an area to the southwest of Aventino along the bank of the Tiber and is named for the eighth hill of Rome, a man made hill that was built from discarded pot amphorae (testae) in Roman times. In Testaccio you can find great traditional Roman restaurants, and at night the zone is filled with discos.

Get in[edit]

Map of Rome/Aventino-Testaccio

Easy access to Aventino from most areas of Rome. From Termini area take a bus to Piazza Venezia and walk from there to reach Piazza Bocca della Verità.

Testaccio is a short walk from the metro station 1 Piramide  B  and there is also a metro line  B  station at the end of Circus Maximus. Near Piramide Metro station is Ostiense railway station, with regular connections to and from Fiumicino Airport. From Piramide you can also get trains to Ostia.



A view of St Peter's from the orange grove
  • 1 Parco Savello (from the Bocca della Verità church (S.M. in Cosmedin) take the Via della Greca a short distance towards the Circus Maximus; then take the Clivo dei Publicii, the first road off to the right, which climbs and curves into the Aventine hill; the park is on the right). Parco Savello is the name of the grounds and orange grove next to the Santa Sabina church at the top of the Aventino and also where you have one of the best views of the city. Families gather here to sit under the dozens of orange trees. The "Giardino degli Aranci" is also a well known spot for lovers at night. The best views are arguably from Janiculum hill, just across the Tevere (Tiber) river. Immediately below you, the Tiber snakes its way through the city, and directly beyond it you can see the lively medieval quarter of Trastevere. Beyond that is the majestic dome of St. Peter's Basilica, with the historic centre of Rome visible to the right. Orange Garden (Q3763895) on Wikidata Orange Garden, Rome on Wikipedia
  • 2 Basilica of Santa Sabina. A 5th-century basilica, simply and attractively decorated. The wooden door, of which 18 carved panels of scenes from the Bible survive, is believed to date from the church's construction. Basilica of Saint Sabina (Q592244) on Wikidata Santa Sabina on Wikipedia
The Gate on Aventino Hill, Rome, with a magnificent view to Vatican through a keyhole
  • 3 Keyhole View (after taking in the view at Parco Savello return to the road and turn right past Santa Sabina and walk almost as far as you can go in a straight line; the keyhole gate is one of several on the right side as you come to the end of the road). The most popular thing on the Aventino hill is to take a peek through the keyhole that lets you look through three countries (the third is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which owns the building that the keyhole belongs to) and see St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City perfectly framed between two rows of trees.
  • 4 Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Piazza Bocca della Verità. A medieval church dating from the 6th century and home to the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth). The Bocca della Verità at the entrance to the church is thought to be a 1st-century manhole cover. It is believed that if you put your hand in the mouth and tell a lie, the hand will be bitten off. Queues for the privilege of risking this can get rather long. Don't ignore the church, which is a gem, and has a separate entrance. Its mosaic floor in the Cosmatesque style is more rustic and less intricate than some others (Santa Maria in Trastevere, for example), but its simplicity gives it a solidity not found in the more ornate styles. S.M. in Cosmedin has a fine medieval choir enclosure and the tallest medieval belfry in Rome. Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church (Q609293) on Wikidata Santa Maria in Cosmedin on Wikipedia
The Temple of Vesta, opposite the Bocca della Verità
  • 5 Piazza Bocca della Verità. In addition to Santa Maria in Cosmedin there is a lot to be seen around this piazza. Opposite the church is the round temple dedicated to Hercules Invictus (the Unconquered Hercules), and not far from that the rectangular Fortuna Virilis, both constructed in the 1st Century. Opposite, to the back of the piazza is the Arch of Argentari and behind that the church of San Giorgio in Velabro, the front of which was repaired after being damaged by a terrorist bomb in July 1993. piazza Bocca della Verità (Q3902429) on Wikidata Piazza Bocca della Verità on Wikipedia
  • 6 Circus Maximus (western end begins just behind S.M in Cosmedin; Circo Massimo metro station at east end.). The contours of the ancient stadium, built in the 6th Century B.C., are still visible in what is now a park in the shadow of the Palatine. Circus Maximus was primarily devoted to chariot races and was used for this purpose until around 550 AD. The stadium could seat up to 150,000 people. Originally built of wood, it burnt down twice, on the second occasion starting the great fire when the Emperor Nero was said to fiddle while Rome burned. It was in one of the tunnels here that Caligula met his end. Excavations began in 2009 at the east end of the circus and are likely to go on for some years. Circus Maximus (Q207808) on Wikidata Circus Maximus on Wikipedia
  • 7 Rose Garden (overlooking Circus Maximus just up the hill from S.M. in Cosmedin). open in May and June. A relaxing place to sit and recover from the exertions of sightseeing. Permanent collection plus annual competition. Rome Rose Garden (Q1072271) on Wikidata Rome Rose Garden on Wikipedia
  • 8 FAO. The enormous building at the southeast end of the Circus Maximus is the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). From its roof are undoubtedly the best views of Rome, but you will need to know someone who works there to get past the strict security. Palazzo FAO (Q3890078) on Wikidata FAO Building, Rome on Wikipedia
  • 9 The Celio (Celian Hill) (at the Caracalla end of Circo Massimo is the Porta di Capena; take the small road to the left that runs parallel to the tram line). The Celian Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome. You immediately see the church of San Gregorio Magno. On this site monks were trained before setting off as missionaries to England at the end of the 6th Century. Further up the hill is Santi Giovanni e Paolo. At this point it is difficult to believe you are in the middle of a major city. This church was built in 398 over the home of two Roman soldiers, John and Paul, who were martyred for their Christian beliefs in 362. Excavations show that there were several burials on the site, a risky business as burials were illegal at that time. After the church you come to the back entrance of the Villa Celimontana park (jazz festival nightly in late June-August). The modern buildings before you reach the park are owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s television company. By the main entrance of the park note the boat-like fountain known as the “Navicella”. As you exit the main entrance to the left is the church of S. Maria in Domnica, which has some interesting mosaics. Next to this church is the Porta Esquilina, one of the gates from the original Servian walls of Rome. It dates back to the 4th century BC. Caelian Hill (Q216104) on Wikidata Caelian Hill on Wikipedia
  • 10 Terme di Caracalla, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla (continue southeast from the end of the Circus Maximus; the entrance is 300 m on your right, immediately after you pass the athletics stadium). 09:00 until one hour before sunset, and 09:00 to 14:00 on Mondays. Inaugurated in 217 AD and used until the 6th Century. The baths were big enough for 1600 bathers at a time. Impressive and well-preserved. Used for operas in summer months (see Opera di Roma for details) and was the location for the famous "three tenors" concert in July 1990, at the time of the World Cup (soccer). €8, plus €2 for online reservation. Baths of Caracalla (Q502098) on Wikidata Baths of Caracalla on Wikipedia
  • 11 San Saba (on the so-called Piccolo Aventino (little Aventine) which is to the southeast of the main Aventine hill, behind FAO). In the 8th and 9th century, San Saba was one of the most prestigious monasteries of Rome. The church has been built up over many centuries and contains a variety of architectural styles. Worth a look are the floor mosaics and some interesting frescoes on the left side of the church. San Saba, Rome (Q1729714) on Wikidata San Saba, Rome on Wikipedia
  • 12 Servian Wall, Via di Sant' Anselmo (follow the Viale Aventino from Circo Massimo; at Piazza Albania take the very small road to the right after the Esso gas station; the wall is 50 m up the road under a roof). The Servian Wall was the first wall around Rome, built around the 3rdcCentury BC. This well-preserved section gives a good opportunity to see the construction methods used at that time, involving the use of blocks of tufa rock. Servian Wall (Q281330) on Wikidata Servian Wall on Wikipedia
  • 13 Roman Houses (Case Romane del Celio), Clivo di Scauro (on the Celio on the left as you go up the hill to SS Giovanni e Paulo). Tu-M 10:00-13:00 and 15:00-18:00, Tu W closed. Early Roman houses dating back to the 1st century, believed to be homes of early Christians. Well-preserved frescoes and a small museum. €6. Case romane del Celio (Q3661653) on Wikidata
  • 14 Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino. Home of the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation and Benedictine monks studying in Rome. Visit the monastic produce shop and listen to the best Gregorian chant in Rome during Vespers (19:15 each evening). Church of Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino, Rome (Q2223864) on Wikidata Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino on Wikipedia
Isola Tiberina from ponte Garibaldi
  • 15 Isola Tiberina. This is the island located in the middle of the Tiber River (Il Fiume Tevere) that separates Central Rome and Trastevere. It boasts both a major hospital, called Fatebenefratelli, and a small synagogue that was secretly used in the Second World War when Rome's main synagogue nearby was closed down. It also has a café and gelateria on the Rome side. It is a nice way of getting to and from Trastevere. Be sure to get photos from Ponte Garibaldi as Isola Tiberina truly is beautiful. The island is 270 m long and up to 67 m broad. According to the legend envoys were sent to the temple of Asklepius in Epidauros in Greece in 291BC in order to get relief from an epidemic in Rome. The envoys brought one of the holy snakes back with them. The snake swam to the Tiber Island thus determining the place where a temple for Asklepius was built. The successor of the Asklepius sanctuary is the Church San Bartolomeo which was built by the German Emperor Otto III around the year 1000. The Ponte Rotto is what is left from the ancient Pons Aemilius, the oldest stone bridge over the Tiber erected around 180 BC. The bridge was partly destroyed during a flood in 1557, re-erected by Pope Gregor XIII and finally pulled down in 1598. In 62 BC the Senatorial road construction office replaced the wooden footbridge by the Ponte Fabricio. Tiber Island (Q545404) on Wikidata Tiber Island on Wikipedia


The Pyramid
  • 16 [dead link] Pyramid of Gaius Cestius (Piramide metro station). A tomb for the wealthy Gaius Cestius, who died in 12 BC. Admission to the monument only by guided tours on specific dates (2nd and 4th Saturday every month, and in combination with a ticket to the Museum of Via Ostiense also on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month). €5.50 + booking fee. Pyramid of Cestius (Q725404) on Wikidata Pyramid of Cestius on Wikipedia
  • 17 Porta San Paolo (Piramide metro station). Next door to the Pyramid, this fine gate in the Aurelian Wall is named after St. Paul as the Via Ostiense leads to the basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls (see Rome/South). Porta San Paolo (Q1636207) on Wikidata Porta San Paolo on Wikipedia
  • 18 [dead link] Museum of Via Ostiense (Close to Ostiense Railway station. Metro line B. Buses 3, 23, 30, 75, 95, 118, 271, 280, 716), +39 06 574 3193. Tu Th 09:30-13:30, 14:30-16:30; W F 09:30-13:30. This is a small museum housed inside Porta San Paolo, which records the importance to Rome of the road that connected it to the harbour at Ostia. There are models of old Ostia and Trajan's harbor. Free. Museo della via Ostiense (Q3329978) on Wikidata
  • 19 Protestant (or non-Catholic) Cemetery (Cimitero Acattolico), Via Caio Cestio 6. M-Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 09:00-13:00 (last entrance 30 min before closing). Behind the pyramid, entered by the Via Caio Cestio, is the Protestant Cemetery where the poet John Keats was buried in 1821 and Percy Bysshe Shelley's ashes were also buried after his drowning in 1822. Richard Dana, author of Two Years before the Mast was buried there in 1882, and the Beat Generation poet Gregory Corso was buried there in 2001. Free entry, donations welcome. Protestant Cemetery, Rome (Q1187723) on Wikidata Protestant Cemetery, Rome on Wikipedia
  • 20 Railway and tramcar museum, Via Bartolomeo Bossi 7 (just behind the Porta S. Paolo station of the Roma-Lido urban railway line; opposite the Pyramid). Small collection of railway carriages and related stuff. Really just for those with special interest in the topic. Entrance through the station if the main entrance is closed. Porta San Paolo Railway Museum (Q1311837) on Wikidata Porta San Paolo Railway Museum on Wikipedia
  • 21 [dead link] MACRO Testaccio, Piazza Orazio Giustiniani 4. Tu-Su 14:00-20:00, M closed (last admission 30 min before closing). Part of the MACRO Museum with its main building in North Center. Located in a complex that was used as slaughterhouse in the 19th century.


  • 1 Testaccio Market (Mercato Testaccio), Via Galvani and Via Alessandro Volta. M-Th 07:00-14:00, F 07:00-18:30, Sa 07:00-15:00, Su closed. Great place to see the wide range of fresh produce available in Italy. Fish and flower stalls as well. Stock up here for picnics to sustain you while sightseeing.


There is usually a temporary food stall near the keyhole (see above) on the Aventino. But the best bet is to buy some food at a shop before you arrive and have a picnic at one of the parks on the Aventino overlooking the Tiber and the city. Volpetti at Via Marmorata 47 has a wide selection of prosciutto, salami, olives and cheeses. Perfect for a picnic. Alternatively, the three bars along the west side of the Viale Aventino all offer tables outside and serve sandwiches, salads and pastas.

  • Taverna Cestia, Via Piramide Cestia, 65 (metro Piramide), +39 065743754. Excellent traditional Roman restaurant. Menu only in Italian, and the waiters do not speak much English. They have a good selection of seafood, and the seafood spaghetti is great.
  • Court Delicati, Viale Aventino 43, +39 06 5746108. In a city not known for its Chinese restaurants, this is one of the best. The owners are Malay Chinese and in addition to the standard Chinese restaurant fare there are many interesting Malay dishes, as well as some Thai dishes.
  • Da Bucatino, Via Luca della Robbia 84, Testaccio, +39 06-5746886. Lunch and dinner. Closed Mondays. Popular multi-roomed restaurant serving traditional Roman dishes.
  • Tutti Frutti, Via Luca della Robbia 3A, +39 06 57 57 902. Excellent Roman cooking at a good price. Menu in Italian and in English. Waiters speak English.
  • 1 Volpetti, Via Marmorata 47, +39 06 5742352. Delicatessen rivalling any other delicatessen in the world. Some items - even pasta - have to be ordered weeks in advance. Also have a small cafe "Taverna Volpetti" round the corner (in Via Alessandro Volta 8) with a wonderful range of true Italian food at decent prices.
  • Ristorante Antico Forno, Via Amerigo Vespucci 28, +39 06 574 6280. Very nice for pizza and first courses. Medium price.
  • Il Cantinone, Piazza Testaccio, 31, +39 06 574 6253. Good for typical Roman cuisine. Good fresh fish and seafood. Medium-low price.
  • [formerly dead link] Felice, Via Mastro Giorgio, 29.
  • Augustarello, Via Giovanni Branca 98. Good for typical Roman cuisine. Medium-high price.
  • Checchino, via di Monte Testaccio, 30, +39 065743816, . Excellent for typical Roman cuisine, with dishes owing much to the fact that Rome's abattoir used to be opposite. Expensive.
  • Flavio al Velavevodetto, Via di Monte Testaccio, 97/99, +39 06 5744194. Very good for typical Roman and other Italian cuisine. Medium-low price.
  • 2 Pizzeria da Remo, Piazza Santa Maria Liberatrice 44, +39 065746270. One of the best for pizza. Medium price.
  • 3 [dead link] Acqua e Farina, Piazza Giustiniani, 2, +39 065741382. Very good for pizza and a lot of particular recipes. Medium price.
  • Il Grottino, Via Marmorata 165. Good pizza place. Get there early at weekends.
  • 4 Pizzeria Nuovo Mondo, Via Amerigo Vespucci 9/17, +39 065746004. Very good for pizza. Medium price.
  • Ristorante Novecento, Via dei Conciatori, 10, +39 0657250445. An amazing restaurant with very good pizza but the specialities are the pastas and the desserts (the ricotta mousse is delightful). €30.


  • L'Oasi della Birra, Piazza Testaccio 41, +39 06 574 6122. In a basement underneath a wine shop opposite Testaccio market, L’Oasi della Birra is a bar with a wide selection of beers from Italy and around the world on offer, as well as some interesting food to go with the beer. The selection of Italian wines in the shop above is excellent too. Ageing red wines are stored in the cellar next to the bar.


  • [dead link] Gazometro B&B Rome, Via del Gazometro 19, +39 06 70490436, fax: +39 06 70490436. Dus, twin, double, and triple guestrooms, all with private bathrooms and breakfast included. Single €50, double €60-90, triple €70-110.
  • Hotels Aventine, San Anselmo and San Pio, in a residential area on the Aventine hill, very close to each other. 600m from Ostiense station if coming from Fiumicino Airport., +39 06 570057. Three quiet hotels run by the same group and sharing the same phone number. Can fill up during conferences of FAO (see above) so wise to book in advance.
  • Hotel Re Testa Rome, Via Beniamino Franklin, 4, +39 06 69941256, fax: +39 06 6994 1454. The Re Testa is a three-star hotel of Rome Testaccio with 36 single, twin, double and triple bedrooms and a few self-catering apartments capable to host up to four people. All with en-suites services, shower, internet Wi-Fi, satellite TV and included breakfast. Single €99, double €121.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Aventino-Testaccio
ENDSouth Rome  SW Rome Metro Line B NE  ColosseoModern Center
OstiaSouth Rome  SW Rome–Lido railway NE  END
Fiumicino AirportTrastevere  SW Lazio regional railway line FL1 NE  NomentanoOrte
ViterboTrastevere  N Lazio regional railway line FL3 S  END
CivitavecchiaTrastevere  W Lazio regional railway line FL5 E  Modern CenterEND

This district travel guide to Aventino-Testaccio is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.