One last place to visit on the Angels and Demons tour of Rome is the tiny island of Isola Tiberina. This is where Robert Langdon receives medical treatment after parachuting into the River Tiber.
The novel refers to a tunnel linking the Castel Sant’Angelo with Saint Peter’s, called Il Passetto, literally the little passageway. This does exist, though it is actually a covered passage which runs along the top of an ancient wall. You can see some of this covered passageway from the south side of the castle.
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.
The church of Santa Maria del Popolo in the Piazza del Popolo is the next location mentioned in Angels and Demons, taking the reader from Raphael’s tomb in the Pantheon to the Chigi Chapel that was designed by Raphael.
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.
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.