For my 43rd birthday, I booked the Angels and Demons tour in Rome. Because of how much I loved the movie and the book, the tour caught my interest. In a bad turn of events, pickpockets stole my wallet the night before so I had no cash to take the Metro to Piazza del P
opolo. I walked to the meeting point, but I arrived too late.
I fought back tears as I searched for a Western Union location. My brother had wired me money so I thought this would be a good time to pick it up. As I still wanted to do the tour, I called the tour company to explain what had happened. They understood and allowed me to do the tour on Friday.
Having the Parthenon not part of the tour disappointed me, but seeing the rest of the sights made me happy. We met our guide at the Santa Maria del Poplo, the second stop in the movie and book. Our guide took us into the church, telling us of its history. After taking some photos, we headed to our next stop, Saint Peter’s Square.
After another lesson in history, she challenged us to find the West Wind bas relief from the story. When I found the carving first, others in the group joked I visited the area already. We carried on to Santa Maria della Vittoria.
Compared to the plain façade, the interior of the church proved to be spectacular. I don’t remember any other church I visited with swords displayed near the altar. In the Cornaro Chapel, we saw The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, one of Bernini’s most famous sculptures. Across from carving lies the body of Saint Victoria, embalmed in wax. Even I found seeing a dead body in a church eerie, considering how much I am fascinated by the after life.
We took a coffee and bathroom break upon arrival at Piazza Navona. After our break, we made a beeline to the Fountain of Four Rivers, another piece by Bernini. The rivers represented by statues are the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the Rio de la Plata. A large obelisk towered from the center of the fountain topped with a carving of a dove.
We then traveled to Castel Sant’Angelo, or the Mausoleum of Hadrian, for our final stop. In the past, the popes used the building as a fortress and castle. The castle became a museum after its decommission in 1901. I chose to roam the fortress after the tour. A beautiful sculpture of Michael the Archangel caught my eye and I had to take far too many photos of it.
When I left the castle, I felt cheated out of the Parthenon. As I walked towards the direction of my hotel, one thought came into my head. I didn’t want to come all the way back to Rome just for this particular church. No sooner did I think it, I turned a corner and the Parthenon appeared.
I wandered into this beautiful building, allowing myself to take in my surroundings. The church proved to be worth the find and it meant my not having to come back just to see it.