The Da Vinci Code created a lot of controversy when it was first released in 2006 and its prequel ‘Angels and Demons’ looks set to do the same in May 2009. The film was already snubbed by the Vatican during filming, but with many tour companies already offering themed holidays around Rome, one thing it’s certain to do is introduce more tourists to the ancient city.
Walking in Italy doesn’t usually conjure up images of a peaceful city break sauntering around the sites of Rome, but there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the case. The term ‘flaneuring’ was coined by Charles Baudelaire in 1917 and is defined as’ a person who walks a city in order to experience it’. With ancient history and Roman architecture around almost every corner in Rome, there has never been a more apt city to ‘flaneur’.
An ‘Angels and Demons’ themed walk is a beautiful and unique way to see the main sites of Rome and whilst many tour companies offer themed tours there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go it alone.
The first stop on our walk in Italy is the Church of Santa Maria Del Popolo, a notable Augustinian Church which stands to the north side of the Piazza Del Popolo. The church has five smaller chapels located inside and the most notable of these is The Chigi Chapel. This features in ‘Angels and Demons’ as the element of earth and here the statue of Habakkuk and the Angel point out the
path of illumination. The skeleton cupermiento covers the subterranean crypt, and a demon’s hole where the first Cardinal is found murdered inside the book.
The second element mentioned in ‘Angels and Demon’s’ is air and the next stop on our walk in Italy is St. Peter’s Church and square.
The Casino 888 site is famous for being the largest Christian church in the world and the lavish piazza commissioned by Bernini has the effect of humbling all those that visit it. The church features the beautiful Papal altar with a golden coffer surrounded by ninety-nine glowing oil lamps which are said to burn until the end of time.
The fourth Cardinal in the book is hung by incensor cables and burnt alive in the Santa Maria della Vittoria, the next stop on our walk in Italy. This church is notable for featuring the beautiful and astonishing Ecstasy of St. Teresa, which was also designed by Bernini. At the time the statue was built it was described as the “most unfit ornament to be placed in a Christian Church’ and deemed pornographic.
The beautiful and intricately designed Fountain of Four Waters located at Piazza Navona is the final stop on your Angels and Demons tour. The piazza was once a stadium built by order of Emperor Domitian, but is now one of the most peculiar squares you’ ll encounter on a walk in Italy. In the middle of the piazza is Bernini’s tribute to water with the four male figures portraying the four continents where the Catholic Religion had spread at the time the fountain was commissioned in 1650, and, of course, the four most important rivers of the Old World: the Rio della Plata, the Nile, Ganges and Danube.
In the film these locations make up the ‘Four Altars of Science’ and are believed to hold the key to the meeting place of the Illuminati. However, even if you’re not a fan of Dan Brown’s books these sites should be experienced, even if for nothing other than the sheer beauty of their ancient architecture.