The Savello Park of Rome also known as the Garden of Oranges is located on the Aventine Hill, behind the Basilica of Santa Sabina.
It is about 7,800 square meters and offers exceptional panoramic views of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica, Trastevere, and the river Tibet.
The small garden was opened to the public in 1932. The Italian architect Raffaele de Vico, the creator of many of Rome’s green landscapes, constructed the beautiful rectangular garden surrounded by Medieval walls that also includes historic ruins.
The garden is bordered with walls that once were an ancient fortress built by the aristocratic Savello family between 1285 and 1287, from the ruins of an old castle owned by another noble family in the 10th century, the Crescenzi family.
Later, it was given to the Dominican order from Santa Sabina, which converted the castle into a monastery with a vegetable garden. According to the legend, The Spanish Saint Dominic planted an orange tree in the garden.
He brought the sapling from his homeland and planted it near the cloister. Therefore, he is responsible for the garden’s name. After one century, Saint Catherine of Siena offered candied fruit to Pope Urban VI, which she made from the oranges she picked from that same tree.
The orange tree is still present, to this day, and can be seen trough an opening in the wall of the nave. Amazingly, on its remains, a younger sapling that bears fruits grew. Years after, the monastery garden was full of orange trees.
They are planted in the park in memory of Saint Dominic who once had founded the monastery on the site and planted the first orange tree in the convent garden in Rome.
Fontana del Mascherone di Santa Sabina welcomes the visitors of the Garden of the Oranges. The fountain was designed in 1593 by the Italian architect and sculptor Giacomo della Porta, from an ancient mask that had been previously placed in several different locations.
These including the Lungotevere Gianicolense and the Forum, and an antique granite. He brought these two pieces together perhaps, as many believe, making reference to the river god Oceanus.
The walled terrace of the garden is popular amongst tourist as well as locals. People come here to watch the sunset and to admire the splendid view of the eternal city. Besides the orange grooves in the garden, the more impressive umbrella pine, also known as the Italian Stone Pine, recognized all over the world as an Italian icon also grows in the park.
The fruits are bitter, but thanks to them the beautiful garden is scented with the perfume of oranges. Birds also love the garden, especially the Rose-ringed Parakeet, a tropical Afro-Asian species. These noisy birds have set breeding colonies in the park and have successfully adapted to living in an urban environment.
During summer, open-aired theater performances are often staged in the Garden of the Oranges. It is a perfect picnic spot and a favorite resting place for visitors, providing them with the opportunity to contemplate Rome from one of its highest hills.