Sant’Anselmo may not be as old or as beautiful as some of the other churches on the Aventine Hill, such as the 5th century Santa Sabina, but it’s definitely worth a visit – especially on a Sunday at 19:15. This is when the Benedictine monks living in the adjoining monastery enter the church in a seemingly endless line – at least 60 of them – and perform half an hour of Gregorian chant.
Gregorian chant has been around for centuries, and when you listen to the monks in Sant’Anselmo it certainly feels like you’re being transported back in time. It’s a solemn but peaceful ritual which tends to put me in an almost meditative state. Regardless of your religious beliefs, you can sit in the church for half an hour, listening to the monks singing and breathing in the scent of the incense. It’s a break from normality and a relaxing way to end the week.
And, just like the rest of the Aventine Hill, there’s something mysterious about Sant’Anselmo. Rome is not like other cities, and the Aventine is not like the rest of Rome – it’s a world of its own.