Rome: Free “Angels and Demons” walking tour

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Castel San Angelo and Bernini's angels
Castel San Angelo and Bernini's angels

By Sav D’Souza in Rome—

The release of the movie “Angels and Demons” is set to do for Rome what “The Da Vinci Code” did for Paris—bring a lot more Dan Brown fans to town! But while Rome is currently afire with pricey “Angels and Demons”-inspired guided tours, you can visit most of the sights featured in the film for free.

Here are six sights, featured in the film, that are easy to get to and free to visit:

Bernini's "Ecstacy."

Bernini’s “Ecstacy.”

1. The Ecstasy of St. Teresa

This provocative sculpture by Bernini holds court in the Santa Maria della Vittoria church. Works by Bernini are featured prominently in “Angels and Demons,” and throughout Rome, where it’s hard to imagine the cityscape without the indelible mark of the painter, sculptor, and architect.

Where to go: Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. Just off Via Nazionale.

"Fountain of Four Rivers" by Bernini.

“Fountain of Four Rivers” by Bernini.

2. Fountain of Four Rivers

The striking and imposing “Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi,” sculpted in 1651 by Bernini, is the setting for a scene in which Dr Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) saves a cardinal from drowning. The fountain is an excellent example of the dramatic flourishes of the “High Baroque” period. Toss a penny in the fountain and make a wish for good luck.

Where to go: The fountain is located in the center of Piazza Navona, in the heart of Rome.

3. Chigi Chapel

The Chigi Chapel was designed by Renaissance painter and architect Raphael, although it was finished in 1520, nearly a hundred years after his death, by Bernini. The chapel is tucked inside the Santa Maria del Popolo church in Piazza del Popolo. The Chigi Chapel houses the famous Chigi pyramidal wall tomb, and the Bernini sculpture “Habakkuk and the Angel,” which factors into Brown’s book.

Where to go: Santa Maria del Popolo church in Piazza del Popolo (Metro Flaminio)

Raphael's tomb in the Pantheon.

Raphael’s tomb in the Pantheon.

4. Pantheon

The Pantheon, that wonder of ancient architecture, is referred to as the “oldest church in Rome” by Dr. Langdon in Angels and Demons.” Constructed in 125 AD, the Pantheon was originally dedicated to the worship of all gods, or “pan theos.” In 609, the building was consecrated as a Christian church by Pope Boniface IV. Today, the Pantheon represents the best-preserved ancient building in Rome, and is filled with sculptures, tombs (including Raphael’s), and incredibly-preserved details.

Where to go: Piazza della Rotunda. Open daily, admission free.

5. Ponte and Castel Sant’Angelo

The magnificent Ponte Sant’Angelo (pictured above), constructed in 136 AD by Emperor Hadrian, leads travelers past its Bernini sculptures over the Tiber River and to the Castel Sant’Angelo and Vatican City.

The Castel Sant’Angelo is an imposing sight, and was built by Hadrian as a tomb for himself, his family, and subsequent Emperors. The building has been used for many purposes since, including a fortress, castle, and today, museum. The Castel plays a crucial part in “Angels and Demons.”

Where to go: Take bus #40 from Termini to Castel Sant’Angelo

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter’s Square

6. St. Peter’s Square

The dramatic first murder in “Angels and Demons” takes place in St. Peter’s Square, crowded with visitors.

The square, located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, is another of Bernini’s Roman masterpieces, designed to give the faithful a massive gathering space where every visitor could see the Pope and receive his blessing.

The square, replete with colonnade and obelisk, was constructed between 1656 and 1667, and can accommodate more than 300,000 people.

Where to go: Bus 40 or 64, or Metro Ottaviano.

About the author

About the author: Sav D’Souza is a freelance journalist currently based in Rome. He has worked as a journalist in Hawaii, Prague, and London and contributed features to the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, SA Sports Illustrated, Prague Post and CNBC Europe. He is a demon pool player, enjoys a round of golf, playing poker, and the occasional gin and tonic.

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2 thoughts on “Rome: Free “Angels and Demons” walking tour”

  1. Rome: Free “Angels & Demons” walking tour.
    My husband & I will be visiting Italy in the first week of January 2010. This will be our first visit to Italy & so I have been doing some online research to plan our visit to Rome. This article is very interesting for us & we plan to do it.
    We want to spend a day visiting the Vatican. Can you write something like this for a visit to the Vatican too ? Are there any free tours offered to the public by any chance ?
    Thank you.
    Sarala Rao

    Reply
  2. This is brill, thanks so much. My daughter borrowed the book last time she was visiting me and I have kept asking for thye map in the front to make sure i didnt miss anything and now youve done this. Well done and thank you

    Reply

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