Parco Savello: a Spiritual Retreat from the Chaos of Rome

If you take a look at the map of Rome you’ll see myriads of patches of green. Some of them are private, others are open to the public, but all of them telling a different story, just like the Savello Park.

Situated on the Aventine Hill — the southernmost of the seven hills of Rome — Parco Savello is popularly known as the Giardino degli Aranci, or “Park of the orange trees”. Its location is truly outstanding, since not only it lies between the fifth-century Basilica of Santa Sabina and the remains of the medieval fortress of the Savelli’s, but it is also short distance to the Priory of the Knights of Malta, the latter offering a semi-secret keyhole vista to Saint Peter’s cupola, and to majestic monuments as the Circus Maximus, among others.

Saint Peter's cupola view from Savello Park

Parco Savello, Basilica of Santa Sabina, and the adjacent Clivo di Rocca Savella once belonged to the holdings of the Savelli family. Donated in 1222 by Honorius III Savelli to the Dominican order, the Basilica still serves as the Dominican headquarters in Rome.

Basilica di Santa Sabina

Before converting to an idyllic island of orange trees, umbrella pines and oleander, Parco Savello was a vegetable garden of the Dominican friars. Only in 1932, it was transformed into a garden by the landscape architect Raffaele de Vico and consequently opened for the public to enjoy one of the best panoramas in Rome. This one-acre park overlooks the Tiber and offers a glorious view of Roman gems.

Panoramic view from the Aventine

The presence of the orange groves is far from being merely aesthetic. In fact, Saint Dominic of Osma, the founder of the order, brought an orange tree from Spain and preached under its shadow. The original tree is still to be seen in the cloister of Santa Sabina.

Orange groves in Savello Park