Among the seven hills of Rome, the Aventine could be considered the hill of poetry. Influenced by her peaceful beauty, great poets such as D'Annunzio and Carducci sang of her splendour in their verses. It was Mazzini, to whom a monument is dedicated in the piazza currently named after Ugo La Malfa, who while overlooking the city from that very place, lowered his eyes in an astonished gaze and stood without smiling in front of such magnificence.
There are numerous interpretations for the origins of the name Aventine. Some says it was taken from the aves, the birds which were placed on the hill by Remus during the challenge with his brother Romulus to decide who should rule.
Others believe that it comes from the term adventus, gatherings that were held by the plebs in celebration of goddess Diana.
Moreover, there is an ancient legend that states that the king of Albalonga, Aventinus, was buried here after being having been killed by lightning.
During the Monarchy and the Republic, the Aventine was the plebeian neighbourhood of Rome. In 451 BC, the plebs retreated in arms on the Aventine after the umpteenth abuse of power by the Decemviri, as led by Appius Claudius, who was elected to draft the Twelve Tables (the basis of Roman law) and quickly transform them into an oligarchy.
The political crisis ended with the suicide of Appius Claudius, the obtainment of the rights requested and the return of the plebs to the city. The Aventine was also the location of the extreme actions of Caius Gracchus and his supporters.
In modern times, Italian congressmen who refused to return to the halls of Montecitorio in 1924 as a protest against Matteotti were called "aventiniani."
Between the Republic and the Empire, the Baths of Sura and Decius were built on the Aventine in place of the luxurious residences. Due to its luxury, it was the area of Rome that suffered the most from the plundering by the Goths of Alarico in 410 AD.
After the siege, the Aventine depopulated and became so deserted that is was preferred by monks and religious persons as a place for monasteries or retreats. It remained solitary and suggestive until the end of the nineteenth century as is witnessed in the watercolours of Ettore Roesler Franz.
During the course of the twentieth century, the Aventine was transformed into an exclusive residential neighbourhood where luxurious real estate is mixed with charming ancient buildings.
Be sure not to miss: Santa Sabina, Santi Bonifacio e Alessio, Priorato di Malta (Villa Malta), Santa Prisca, the Piramide di Caio Cestio (Pyramid of Caius Cestius), and Monte Testaccio.