Month: February 2015

Angels and Demons – Rome – 5

The action in Angels and Demons then moves to Piazza Barberini, with its famous Triton Fountain by Bernini. The novel places the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in this square, but it is actually several blocks away. Dan Brown has relocated the church for convenience.

Santa Maria della Vittoria is famous for Bernini’s sculpture of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa which features in the novel.

Bernini Ecstasy Saint Teresa


Angels and Demons – Rome – 4

The next murder in Angels and Demons, takes place at the obelisk in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Near the obelisk, you can also see the Ponente – the marble plaque in the pavement which indicates the direction of the west wind, and hints at the way in which this cardinal was to be murdered.

St Peters Obelisk Rome


Angels and Demons – Rome – 2

In Angels and Demons, Robert Langdon’s path around Rome takes him to four locations, where four kidnapped cardinals are gruesomely murdered by an assassin from a secret anti-church group called the Illuminati. But, the first stop is the Pantheon, which turns out to be a red herring when Langdon realises that he has misinterpreted the first clue. This domed temple-cum-church was built by Hadrian in 126AD and is one of the architectural wonders of the world.

Pantheon Rome

Angels and Demons – Rome – 1

Looking forward to a trip to Italy, we have been rereading Dan Brown’s bestseller, Angels and Demons. As well as being an exciting read, the book is a good introduction to some of the most interesting tourist sites in Rome. You can use it as a kind of guide book.

Angels and Demons features the symbologist Robert Langdon, of The Da Vinci Code fame, who follows a set of cryptic clues to save the Vatican from destruction by an antimatter bomb. Langdon dashes around Rome in just four hours, but you can take a more leisurely pace and enjoy the art and architecture along the way.

The route starts at Saint Peter’s Basilica, where you can see the famous Swiss Guards, who help – and sometimes hinder – Langdon in his quest. In their colourful striped uniforms, they add drama and a sense of grandeur to what is already an amazing site. In the novel, a conclave of cardinals gathers in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope. A visit to this chapel to admire Michelangelo’s stunning fresco of the Last Judgement is a must do when you are in Rome.

St Peters from Vatican Gardens


Banjo Paterson – 8

There are several contenders from different parts of the Snowy Mountains region for being the actual person depicted in Banjo Paterson’s poem, The Man from Snowy River. Banjo, himself, said that it wasn’t based on any one person. But that doesn’t stop the town of Corryong in north eastern Victoria, from being sure that they know who the real Man from Snowy River was.

They say that Jack Riley, a stockman employed for 23 years at Tom Groggin Station on the NSW/Vic border, was the subject of the poem. According to local historians at Corryong’s Man from Snowy River Museum, when Banjo Paterson was on a camping trip with a friend in the Snowy Mountains, he met Jack Riley and heard from him the story of the famous ride.

You can visit Jack Riley’s grave in Corryong and pay your respects to the skilled stockman, who could be the subject of the following verse, and the poet who made him famous.

“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”


Corryong Museum


Banjo Paterson – 7

The Snowy Mountains town of Cooma has a sculpture of the Man from Snowy River. You can find it in the main street in front of Centennial Park. It was unveiled in 1961 as a tribute to Banjo Paterson.

Opposite the park is the Prince of Wales Hotel (now a men’s wear store) where Banjo Paterson first recited his poem, The Geebung Polo Club. The poem describes a contest between the rough and ready mountain men from Geebung and the neat and natty polo players from Sydney called the Cuff and Collar team.

It might have been a fictional polo match, but a street near Cooma’s polo flat in the south east of the town has been named Geebung Street.

Man from Snowy River Cooma

Banjo Paterson – 6

Of course the greatest memorials to Banjo Paterson are his poems. Many Australians of a certain age can quote a few lines from The Man from Snowy River, Clancy of the Overflow, or The Man from Ironbark.

In Orange, in a small park near the library and visitor information centre there is an art work that features Banjo Paterson and motifs from two of his poems, The Man from Snowy River and Mulga Bill’s Bicycle.

Banjo Paterson Memorial Orange