How to visit Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome, and why you shouldn’t miss it

Castel Sant’Angelo is a not to be missed sight. His 20 centuries of history are intimately linked to Rome, views from the top are great and child love it!

A visit to Castel Sant’angelo is usually not in the bucket list of rushy Roman travellers. That’s surprising, because few monuments can give the same  sense of the Roman history along the centuries.

Visit Castel Sant'Angelo - night view

Castel Sant’Angelo, formerly Adrian Emperor Mausoleum, is one of the most famous Roman landmarks. And it’s just in front of you when walking along the tiber to Piazza Navona or getting out from St Peter’s Cathedral.

it has a fascinating history and offers one of the finest views of Rome from its rooftop terrace.

That’s why it would be a pity not to cross the scenic Ponte degli Angeli to visit one of the oldest and most fascinating Roman Monument.

You can visit Castel Sant’Angelo in an hour, after you are done with St Peter’s basilica. In this post I will address the main questions and interest you may have concerning Castle Sant’Angelo, such as:

  • What are Castel sant’Angelo hystory and facts?
  • What about Castel Sant’Angelo bridge?
  • What is inside Castel Sant Angelo?
  • How long to visit Castel Sant’Angelo?
  • Is Castel Sant Angelo part of Vatican City
  • What are Castel Sant’Angelos hours?
  • What’s the price of Castel Sant’Angelo tickets? Can I use my Roma pass?

 

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Everything you need to know before visiting St Peter’s Basilica in Rome

The 10 + 1 key things you need to know before visiting St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Tickets, opening hours, dressing code, when to visit and much more. 

Visiting St Peter’s Basilica is a highlight of any trip to Rome. That said, St Peter is is a holy place, the center of Christianity, with massive security procedure, and it’s normal for first comers to have many questions about their visit.

I tried to collect the most frequent questions about visiting St Peter’s Basilica and to provide answers and guidance, so to make your visit  smooth and enjoyable.

Here are the 10 + 1 questions you will find an answer to in this post:

  1. What is St Peter’s Basilica dress code?
  2. What’s the best time to visit St Peter’s Basilica?
  3. Why are queues to enter St Peter’s Basilica so long?
  4. What are St Peter’s Basilica opening hours?
  5. Is St Peter’s Basilica always open?
  6. How much are the tickets to enter St Peter’s Basilica?
  7. Is it possible to climb on top of St Peter’s dome?
  8. Can I take pictures in St Peter’s Basilica?
  9. When are St Peter’s Basilica Mass times?
  10. Can I visit St Peter’s tomb?
  11. (bonus question: you need to get to the end of the post to know)

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Rome in 5 days: how to get the most out of your Rome stay

Rome Italy - Vatican Museums

Rome must sees, such as Colosseum, Spanish steps and Vatican, and off the beaten path sights such as Appian way and the catacombs: easy 5 days itinerary.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you will definitely need more than 24 hours to discover it! Actually, even though two or three rushy days may be sufficient to get a glimpse of the main sights, ideally you should try to dedicate not less than five days to the visit of the eternal city.

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Discovering the Spanish steps area

Discover by foot one of top Rome destinations, beyond the beaten path

 

The Spanish Steps, that Italians call Scalinata of Trinita dei Monti, are one of the main tourist attractions in Rome and, indeed, one of the most famous images in the world.

You will certainly visit them when in Rome and sit on the most famous Italian steps while savoring a gelato , before heading to the next destination on your “to be visited” list. The good new is that there’s much more to see than just the staircase, and if your planning allows you a couple of hours in the  neighborhood, you  will be greatly rewarded by discovering often neglected jewels such as Villa Medici and Santa Maria del Popolo, plus a couple of delightfully places where to stop for a coffee or for a cocktail.

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Walking tour in Trastevere: perfect itinerary in Rome most typical district

Explore Trastevere, an unmissable neighborhood in Rome. All the info you need to enjoy this lovely area, including pictures and Google map.

Trastevere walking tour overview

Have you ever dreamed to discover what Rome looked like a couple of centuries ago? Narrow stone paved streets lined by medieval houses? Then take a Trastevere walking tour to enjoy this charming medieval neighborhood full of romance and history. My Trastevere walking tour Google map will help you find your way in the maze of this unique district.

Trastevere is named for its position ‘over the Tiber’. Separated from the heart of central Rome by the river, the area retained its narrow lanes and working-class population when the rest of Rome began its nineteenth-century expansion. Despite its being a major touristic destination, it has managed to preserve a strong local (and “Roman”!) identity. Therefore, it’s not too difficult to step off the main routes and escape the masses. To make sure you have Trastevere all for yourself, plan your visit in the morning and take some time to walk out of the beaten path.

Trastevere could also be an interesting district to spend your days in Rome: it’s a charming neighborhood, close to the city center and to St Peter. You should consider it as you top location when looking for a place to stay in Rome.

Click here to find the best places to stay in Trastevere

Here is the itinerary, click on the image to access google Maps for more details.

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Mystical ecstasy in Rome: Santa Maria della Vittoria

 

An absolute baroque masterpiece by Gianlorenzo Bernini, hidden in small church close to Termini station in Rome.

Santa Maria della Vittoria (Our Lady of Victory) hosts one or the most amazing Baroque masterpieces: the ecstasy of St Teresa, by Gianlorenzo Bernini. However, this tiny church is not included in the “standard tourist itinerary” and this makes it a rewarding “off the beaten path” destination.

Visit Rome_Santa Maria della Vittoria0

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Climbing up St Peter’s Basilica’s dome: best way to do it

St Peters dome from the basilica

Climbing to the top of St Peter’s dome is one of the highlights of a trip to Rome. Here is how to climb the dome and how to skip the queue.

Not that many visitors know that it is possible to climb up to the top of St Peter’s dome (the “cupola”). Actually getting on top of St Peter’s dome is one of Rome must do, and a great opportunity to enjoy a fantastic and dizzying city panorama all around Rome and to admire a top down view of St Peter’s basilica nave.

When to visit St Peter’s dome

Best thing for you would be to visit the dome first thing in the morning, when it opens, at 8:00 AM. Not much queue  at that time, you may have the dome almost for yourself.

In that case, you may first climb up the dome and then visit St Peter’s basilica (when you get down from the dome you will end up in the nave).

A good alternative is to climb on top of St Peter’s dome before it closes: you will then admire Rome in its unique sunset golden light. In Wintertime, you will see Rome’s lights and, at Christmas, the huge Christmas tree in St Peter’s square.

Similarly, first go up to the dome, then visit the Basilica, which closes later than the dome.

In summertime, better to avoid climbing on top of St Peters dome in the hottest hours of the day: the stairs and the viewpoint can get very hot and uncomfortable at that time.

How to climb up St Peter’s dome

In order to climb up St Peter’s dome, you need to go throw St Peter cathedral security check.

At the entrance to the basilica, after the security check, look right. There is a sign that directs you to the far right of the portico (past the Holy Door) and to the kiosk for the elevator.

This is where you purchase the tickets to St Peter’s dome. Note that the Basilica entrance is on the right side of the colonnade.

In high season, queues could be very long and spoil part of your day.

 I would recommend to purchase a St Peter Basilica skip the line ticket and save your valuable time (follow the link for a value for money option, including audioguide).

You can take the elevator to the roof level (saving 320 steps). However, if you want to get to the top of the dome you must take the stairs for the last portion. This makes 551 steps in total.

The entrance cost is Cost 10 Euros for elevator, 8 Euros for stairs.

After the brief elevator ride (or the first 320 steps) stop before your climb to the dome. Here you can enjoy a great view from the gallery inside the dome looking down into the basilica .

Take a few moments to absorb the astonishing beauty of the cupola from within – and looking down – the main altar.

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Night walk in Rome: a fabulous itinerary to discover Rome after sunset

What are the best sights to visit at night in Rome? Discover the magic of Piazza Navona, St. Peter and the Pantheon in the dark. A two hours night walk in Rome itinerary to discover Rome under a completely different light!

In this post, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite night walking itineraries in Rome. Not that much “off the beaten path”, but so delightful!

Walking in Rome at night is just magical. In the yellowish street lights of the old Roman neighborhoods, you can hardly miss the feeling of over twenty centuries of history, art and beauty.

And, all around you, the Roman Dolce Vita, with its restaurants, streets artists, ice cream shops, and hundreds of Romans and tourists enjoying the nice weather and the fabulous surroundings!

You can click on the map below to get to google map, the itinerary is easy and won’t take more than a couple of hours (excluding your Gelato stops!).

And to bring your Roman night experience to the next level, what about an exclusive night visit to the Colosseum? Click here to know more!

Happy walk!

Night walk in Rome - Rome by night itinerray

Our night tour starts from Castel San’Angelo, one of the town’s most famous landmarks.

Castel Sant’Angelo appearance today is the result of a long series of transformations. Unfortunately, they have left nearly no traces of the “Hadrianeum”, the mausoleum that Emperor Hadrian built for himself in the second century AD.

Used as a defensive bastion against barbarians during Emperor Aurelian reign, by the Middle Ages Castel Sant’Angelo had been transformed into a practically unassailable fortress, hosting an infamous prison.

The popes converted the structure into a castle and also commissioned the construction of a covered fortified corridor connected to the Vatican Palaces (il “passetto”). It was to be used in the event of danger as an extreme escape route.

This secret corridor inspired many dark novels, including Dan Browns’ “Angels and Demons”.

Night walk in Rome - night_Castel Sant'Angelo_01

In front of Castel Sant’angelo you will notice a beautiful pedestrian bridge, usually very crowded: Ponte Sant’Angelo.

Ponte Sant’Angelo, formerly called  “Bridge of Hadrien”, was built in 134 AD and is one of the oldest bridges  in Rome. During the Middle Ages, pilgrims used it to reach St Peter’s basilica.

In the seventh century both the castle and the bridge took on the name Sant’Angelo, due to a legend holding that the Archangel Michael appeared atop the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the terrible year 590 plague.

Night walk in Rome - night_Castel Sant'Angelo from ponte Sant'Angelo_01

In 1669, under pope Clement IX,  Bernini adorned the bridge with ten angels holding instruments of the passion.

He personally only finished the two originals of the Angels, but these were kept by Clement IX for his own pleasure. They are now in the church of Sant’Andrea delle fratte.

Night walk in Rome - Castel Sant'Angelo angels 2_01

Night walk in Rome - night_Castel Sant'Angelo angels_01

Walking left, you will admire majestic via della Conciliazione, leading to St Peter basilica. This avenue is actually the result of one of Benito Mussolini “modernizing” demolition initiatives, aiming at providing Rome with monumental perspectives.

Night walk in Rome - night - St Peter by night_01

Now cross Ponte Vittorio, to admire on of the most scenic views of Castel Sant’Angelo.

Night walk in Rome - the Tiber Castel sat'Angelo_01

On this early twentieth century liberty style bridge, instead of baroque angels you will find liberty Nikes…

Night walk in Rome - Victory on ponte Vittorio_01

A few meters ahead, take Via del Panico to enter the Rioni (districts) Ponte and Parione, among the most delightful and fascinating roman neighborhoods.

You could wander for hours in the middle age narrow streets, discovering romantic corners and picturesque sights. Don’t rush, take your time to explore the area and to enjoy the unique atmosphere.

This is one of the places where the liveliness of Roman life is most tangible. So just sit in one of the many cafes and enjoy some true “dolce vita” moments.

Night walk in Rome - Dolce vita close to Bar del Fico_01

If you are lucky enough to find a place to sit, try the famous “Caffé della Pace“, in via della Pace 3/7 or the also famous Bar del Fico, piazza del Fico, 26-28.

You will actually found dozens of nice bars and restaurants in the area, but these two are my favorites places to have a drink end to enjoy the Roman night.

Night walk in Rome - Caffé della pace_02

Night walk in Rome - caffe della pace

After sipping your cocktail, keep walking in via del teatro Pace, turn left in via del Governo Vecchio. There you are, in front of you a true Roman legend: the Pasquino statue.

The statue is what remains of a work from the 3rd century B.C. that once decorated the Stadium of Domitian. It was found during paving works of the area and in 1501 the cardinal Oliviero Carafa located it in the ancient Piazza di Parione. It was named after Pasquino when the statue grew in popularity.

The origin of the name, “Pasquino” remains obscure. However, from the 16th to the 19th century, Pasquino became the first “talking statue” of Rome. Satirical verses attacking the most well-known public figures were hung around its neck, speaking about the people’s dissatisfaction, denouncing injustice and misgovernment by members of the Church.

These stinging insults came to be called “Pasquinate,” taking the name of the statue that best demonstrated the people’s discontent about corruption and abuses of power.

Night walk in Rome - Pasquino statue_01

Today, the base of the statue is still used to stick up boards where the common people express in rhyme or in prose its discontent.

Night walk in Rome - Pasquino_21

A few steps away, you’ll discover the magic of Piazza Navona.

Built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, Piazza Navona is one of the finest baroque masterpiece in papal Rome, which displays the genius of artists such as Bernini and Borromini.

And, at night, it is simply magic.

Night walk in Rome - Piazza Navona_fontna del moro 2_01

Night walk in Rome - Piazza Navona_ Fontana del Moro e sat'Agnese in Agone_01

Night walk in Rome - Piazza Navona_ Fontana dei quattro fiumi_01

Night walk in Rome - PiazzaNavona_Fontana dei quattro fiumi e sant'agnese_01

Night walk in Rome - Piazza Navona_ Fontana dei quattro fiumi-the Nile_01

In the summer time, the piazza provides a continuous festival of painters, caricaturists, fortune-teller and buskers, who entertain visitors until the small hours.

Night walk in Rome - Piazza Navona_Painters 2_01

Night walk in Rome - Piazza navona_Painters 3_01

Night walk in Rome - Piazza Navona_Painters 1_01

At that point, you will be really hungry. Many restaurants in this area are tourist traps, catering little more than Spaghetti Bolognese and Pizza, but some exceptions can still be found.

One of my favorite places is the Ditirambo, close to Campo de’ Fiori square. Here you will have the opportunity to taste some “modern” italian cuisine, in a traditional decor. Good value for money, in my opinion.

Night walk in Rome - Ditirambo2

The Campo de’ Fiori square is another major Roman night life landmark , with many cafes to sip a glass of whine or a cocktail while enjoying the street life.

Night walk in Rome - Campo dei fiori_Wine bar_01

In the center of the “piazza”, note the statue of Giordano Bruno, a famous Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, astrologer and astronomer.

Sadly enough, the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy and burned at the stake.

Night walk in Rome - Campo dei fiori_Roman movida under Giordano Bruno statue_01

If you still have some energy, you can head to one of the best preserved ancient Roman monuments: the Pantheon.

Night walk in Rome - Pantheon by night_01

Night walk in Rome - Dolphin and Pantheon_01

To end your walking tour in a glorious way, keep walking back towards the Tiber river, until Ponte Umberto 1°, to admire the best view of St Peter’s basilica.

Night walk in Rome - Sant Peters from Ponte Umberto 1°

Enjoy your night walk in Rome!


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The most charming fountain of Rome

Delighted tourist

One of the most charming fountain of Rome is also one of the best hidden, and seeking it out will help you discover the Roman ghetto neighborhood and, why not, taste some dishes of the Roman Jewish cuisine. 

The “pièce de résistance” of this tour is the fontana delle tartarughe (The Turtles Fountain), located in the out-of-the-way Piazza Mattei, in the Roman Juish Ghetto .

This lovely little fountain features four male figures propped up on dolphins and assisting tiny turtles into the small pool above them. It was built between 1580 and 1588 by the architect Giacomo della Porta (one of the most famous 16th century roman architects) and the sculptor Taddeo Landini. The bronzes turtles around the upper basin, usually attributed either to Gian Lorenzo Bernini or Andrea Sacchi, were added in either 1658 and 1659.

Turtles fountain, Rome

You will love this fountain not only for its beautiful late Italian Renaissance style, but also for the lovely and relaxed neighborhood, so different from the busy and chaotic largo di Torre Argentina square, which could be the starting point of your visit.

From largo di Torre Argentina take via Paganica and venture into the old neighborhood. The Turtles Fountain is located in Piazza Mattei (from the name of the family who actually financed the fountain in the 16th century), at the end of via Paganica – you just can’t miss it.

You can take your time, sit on a bench or sip a cappuccino in one of the two bars in Mattei square (I suggest the fancy Bartaruga).

Old wall, Roman GhettoThen, lazily loose yourself in the old alleys or, if it’s lunch time, walk down the old via di S. Ambrogio, heading towards via del Portico di Ottavia, were most of the Kosher restaurants are located. While relaxing and enjoying your walk, look for the remains or a very old past, that pop up from time to time in the old streets.

My favorite is the tiny and lovely Tempietto del Carmelo, build around 1572 by Pope Gregorio XIII; it was used to  give local Jews “mandatory” sermons, with the aim of converting them to Catholicism!

Tempietto del Carmelo 2

Also notable are the remains of Roman ancient buildings and statues, “recycled” during the middle ages as cheap construction materials.

Resti romani- via portico di Ottavia

The most famous restaurant here is Gigetto al Portico di Ottavia, where you can eat on the side walk, with an amazing view on the Portico di Ottavia, the teatro Marcello and the Synagogue.

Portico di Ottavia and teatro di Marcello

Here you can savor a delicious Carciofo alla giudia (fried artichoke, Jewish style). You should also taste “Fiori di Zucca”, delicious zucchini flowers, filled with mozzarella and anchovies and deep fried.

Roma201304_085

Gigetto Al Portico di Ottavia

Unfortunately Giggetto has become a tourist spotlight, and food level  has suffered a little bit. For a higher quality you can also test Ba’ Ghetto or La Taverna del Ghetto, on the same street.

Buon Appetito!

From here you can either cross the Tiber and get to Isola Tiberina or Trastevere, or you can pass under the Portico di Ottavia and walk to the Campidoglio

Enjoy your walk!


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Amazing underground Rome tour: a deep dive in medieval Rome

A fascinating underground Rome walking tour to discover the Roman temples and early Christian churches buried under medieval basilicas. Visit middle ages jewels, totally off the beaten path.

 

Have you ever dreamed to feel the mysticism of archaic Christians in a 15 century old basilica? Can you imagine yourself descendig deep stairs and get to an untouched Mithraic temple, buried under two layers of middle age churches? Well, you can experience all this in Rome!

If you think about Rome, the first images that will come to your mind are the majestic Romans’ remains, the renaissance palaces or the baroque churches. Middle age is a rather ignored period, which is a pity, since the centuries of roman empire final decadence and the dark ages that followed gave birth to some of the most fascinating and romantic spots you could find in Rome. Today I’d like to walk you through a half day tour that will dive you in a mysterious, unspotted Rome.

Let’s start our tour from the Colosseo (just to have an easy landmark…). A few steps away, in via Labicana, look for San Clemente Church.

Underground Rome Tour and Medieval Rome Map

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