Angels and Demons Rome Itinerary

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Photo by Martha Bakerjian

Path of the Illumination sites in Vatican City and Rome

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Dan Brown’s popular book (and later movie), Angels and Demons is set in Rome and Vatican City. You can visit the top places mentioned in the story in this itinerary. While the itinerary can be done in one day, if you want to spend much time inside the monuments and sites, it’s best to allow more time.

Filming for the movie was forbidden in Vatican City. Therefore scenes that take place at the Vatican were actually filmed at Caserta Royal Palace, an 18th century Bourbon palace northeast of Naples.

Vatican Scenes in Angels and Demons

Start your visit to Saint Peter’s Square, in Vatican City, in the morning when it’s less crowded. Both the square and Saint Peter’s Basilica are top sites featured in Angels and Demons. They are also top places to go when in Rome.

Although you can visit the Basilica for free, you’ll have to make a reservation to visit the necropolis under the church. Saint Peter’s Basilica is the world’s largest Christian church so plan to spend at least an hour inside. The square is also huge. 140 statues depicting saints, martyrs, popes, and important religious figures top the colonnades designed by Bernini. The West Ponente, a circular marker near the obelisk, represents air in the story.

To see the Sistine Chapel, you’ll have to visit the Vatican Museums. If you plan to do that, be sure to book a tour or buy tickets in advance. For the best way to see the Sistine Chapel without a huge crowd, book a Pristine Sistine Early Entrance Small Group Vatican Tour.

The passeto, a secret walkway, connects the Vatican to Castel Sant’ Angelo. During the 14th century, the fortress was used as a papal residence. Toward the end of the story, the passeto was a secret spot used by the Illuminati.

Use our Vatican one day itinerary if you want to go into these sites and save the second part of the itinerary another day. Or continue across the river into Rome.

Squares, Fountains, and Churches

From Castel Sant’Angelo, cross the river on the beautiful Sant’Angelo Bridge and head to Piazza Navona. In the square are 3 elaborate fountains but the central fountain is the one that features in the story. Bernini’s Fountain of the Rivers, Fontana Dei Fiumi, represents Water on the Path of the Illumination. It portrays the Danube,  Ganges, Nile, and Rio de la Plata Rivers.

Next you’ll come to the Pantheon, an ancient Roman site that was transformed into a church in the 7th century. Until the 15th century, its dome was the largest ever built. Go inside to admire the well-preserved building.

Your route takes you past the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Barberini to the next stop, Santa Maria della Vittoria on Via XX Settembre. The Baroque church holds the famous Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini that represents Fire on the Path of Illumination.

Finally retrace your steps to Piazza Barberini and head to Piazza di Spagna, at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Continue straight on Via del Barbuino to Piazza del Popolo. Go into the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo and find the Chigi Chapel, created by Raphael with statues by Bernini. In the story, the Chigi Chapel represents Earth on the Path of Illumination.

This ends the tour of Angels and Demons sites, which were presented in a logical route rather than the story sequence. The Pincio, up the stairs from Piazza del Popolo, is a great place to enjoy the sunset at the end of your day.

Rome Travel Planning:
Find a hotel in Rome
Book these Rome museum and site tickets before you go
Get a guide book: Rick Steves Rome 2020 or Rick Steves Pocket Rome
See more Recommended Rome Books: Food, Tips, and Local Life

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