So although not an 'official' tour, so to speak, my brother and I decided to drag our parents to some of the locations that were used in the Angels and Demons book and film. These included Castel Sant'Angelo, Piazza Navona, and Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo. We're huge fans, and had a great time running around Rome seeing all of the locations! Also I had quite a lot of fun getting this nighttime photo of the Castle...
Castel Sant'Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel) was fascinating, in the book and film it's where they held the Cardinal's imprisoned, but in real life it's nearly 1000 years old, and was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian (yes, the same Hadrian that Hadrian's Wall in Scotland is named after!), as a mausoleum for himself. The building was used for hundreds of years by every Pope as a fortress, and there's a secret passageway that runs between the castle and the Vatican which was used by a number of Popes as an escape route. Castel Sant'Angelo was also the location used in the third act of the famous opera, Tosca, when the heroine leaps to her death from the castle.
One of the signatures on the door above is dated 1858 - fascinating stuff! The Papal apartments were really opulent, just like St Peter's Basilica.
After the Papal apartments we headed up to the roof to check out the view. There was a storm brewing overhead so we didn't hang around too long.
We then walked to the Spanish Steps (not a setting in the book/film), and visited the church at the top before going back to the hotel through Piazza Navona.
Piazza Navona was was used in the book and film as one of the 'altars of science', and was where one of the cardinals is drowned with the word 'water' on his chest. Robert Langdon manages to save the cardinal, who tells him that the illuminati's lair is in Castel Sant'Angelo. In the film they used the real Piazza Navona, and they also built a set of it (not sure why). The Piazza itself is absolutely full of tourists as it's one of the biggest Piazza's, with lots of restaurants, shops, and gelato cafes. The fountains are stunning, especially the Fountain of Four Rivers in the middle of the piazza, that was used in the film.
Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is the setting for the 'Earth' part of the alters of science in Angels and Demons. They didn't actually film inside the church, they used the police station opposite as the exterior (which they covered in scaffolding), and then they built a set to resemble the church. We actually sat in the second half of a mass in Santa Maria on the Sunday, it was late afternoon and full of locals.
After the mass we had a walk around the church, and saw the famous Chigi Chapel, which famous renaissance artist Raphael painted in the 1500's. It was beautiful, but I didn't take photos of it as there were some locals standing next to me and I didn't want to be too touristy! The church also contains artworks by Bernini, as he was also one of the architect's for the church.
We missed out Santa Maria della Vittoria, which was the setting for the 'fire' alter of science, but we did visit the Pantheon and Raphael's tomb, which was the location for the start of Robert Langdon's quest. St Peter's Square and St Peter's Bascilia were also settings in the film, but they weren't allowed to film there because the Catholic church got a bit funny after The Da Vinci Code, so it was mainly digital imagery and CGI etc.
And that just about concludes our epic Angels and Demons tour around Rome! Are you a fan of the book/film?