Gareth and I both enjoyed Dan Brown’s bestselling novel Angels and Demons and we’re huge fans of the Tom Hanks film as well. So when we visited Rome, we went out of our way to see some of the Eternal City’s featured sights. Here’s what we found (there might be some spoilers below for those of you unfamiliar with the story).
The Vatican City
A large part of the story takes place inside the Vatican City where ordinary visitors are not allowed, but there’s a scene in the film showing the Sistine Chapel, home of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. We explored the Vatican Museums and spent a few minutes admiring the famous ceiling at the end of our walk.
While following the clues on the “Path of Illumination”, Langdon and Vittoria find themselves looking up at the famous oculus in the Pantheon. This circular church is one of my favourite places in Rome and when we were there we were lucky enough to catch a performance from a visiting choir. I still get chills remembering the hauntingly beautiful music echoing around that sacred chamber.
Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo
This church is fairly unassuming from the outside, but contains artwork from such well-known Renaissance names as Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio. This is where Langdon and Vittoria find the papal candidate branded with the Earth mark.
St Peter’s Square
Part of the Vatican City, Piazza San Pietro is one of Rome’s iconic landmarks and one of my favourite places on Earth. On this trip, Gareth and I spent two or three hours here queuing to get into St Peter’s Basilica, making friends with the Americans behind us, and generally enjoying the ambiance of a blue sky day in Rome. In the story, the papal candidate branded with the Air mark is found here.
Santa Maria della Vittoria
We walked a very long way to reach this church, only to find that it closes for siesta, so we had to sit outside on its steps until it finally opened again. It was worth waiting for, because the interior is truly spectacular and Bernini’s Ecstasy of St Theresa is a masterpiece. The unfortunate papal candidate branded for Fire is found here.
Another one of my favourite places in Rome, Piazza Navona is the location of the Fountain of the Four Rivers and, you guessed it, where Langdon rescues the papal candidate marked for Water. It’s also a really good spot for gelato!
The movie differs a little bit from the book here, but in both cases there is a scene in this 2nd century castle built as a mausoleum for emperor Hadrian (also known for his wall between Scotland and England). Gareth and I were trapped in here for a few hours during a very impressive lightning storm and had the chance to become intimately acquainted with all its nooks and crannies.
St Peter’s Basilica
St Peter’s Basilica is probably one of the most awe-inspiring structures in the world. It is simply enormous and well worth queuing for. In the story, Langdon descends into the catacombs underneath the basilica to look for the antimatter canister at the heart of all the drama.
The Tiber River
At the end of the novel, Langdon is fished from the river Tiber, the main watercourse of Rome. Our Trastevere apartment was situated quite close to the river, so we traipsed along its embankment and across its bridges to and from all the spectacular sights of Rome.
Have you killed your feet in search of movie or literary locations across the globe? Where did you go and what did you see? What do you think of our self-guided tour?
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For more posts in the Ciao Italy 2014 series, click here.