ROME (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to follow in the footsteps of Professor Robert Langdon and discover some of Rome’s most beautiful sites featured in the blockbuster movie Angels & Demons?
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors track Illuminati clues across the eternal city whilst enjoying its renowned history, culture and cuisine.
8 p.m. - Having checked into your hotel, head for great food and a real Italian vibe at the Antica Enoteca on Via della Croce between Via del Corso and Piazza di Spagna. A lively wine bar/restaurant with freshly prepared appetizers at the bar, great pizza, and a terrific tiramisu.
10 a.m. - After kicking off the day with some of Rome’s finest and most famous coffee at Bar Sant’Eustachio (Piazza Sant’Eustachio 82) head up to the northernmost end of Via del Corso to Piazza del Popolo.
In the far right corner of the square stands the church of Santa Maria del Popolo where Langdon locates the body of the first missing Cardinal. Buried up to his waist at the bottom of a demon’s hole beneath the church floor, he is first in a series of associations with the Illuminati’s four primordial elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
As well as celebrating Langdon’s first step in the Vatican mystery, take a moment to admire two Caravaggio masterpieces to the left of the main altar, The Crucifixion of St. Peter and The Conversion of St. Paul.
The view from the Pincio gardens up to the right of the Piazza has a lovely view across the Roman rooftops all the way to the Vatican and the very heart of the Angels & Demons intrigue.
12 p.m. - Heading south from Piazza del Popolo, check out Tad Café at 155A Via del Babuino, a ‘concept store’ where you can shop for clothes, household goods, flowers and perfumes, get your hair cut and eat tasty Thai-Italian fusion cuisine all in one super slick and trendy location.
3 p.m. - Heading back down the Corso to Piazza Venezia, take Bus 62 from Via del Plebiscito over the river to Via della Conciliazione. Walk along this broad avenue to appreciate the full splendor of Basilica San Pietro.
In the center of its grand Piazza, designed by Bernini and built between 1656-1667, stands a giant Egyptian obelisk, under which Langdon finds another of the missing Cardinals. Representing Air, the unfortunate Cardinal is found with holes punctured through his chest and lungs.
For breathtaking views, take the lift or brave the long and narrow spiral stairways to the dome and roof of the Basilica.
Appreciate the scale and splendor of the church interior from the dizzy heights of its dome and then head out onto the sunny roof for an unusual, but pleasingly simple ‘caffé’ experience courtesy of Il Ristoro.
Sip a soft drink or coffee beneath giant marble saints and look out to the East for Castel Sant’Angelo, the final stop on Langdon’s Illuminati trail.
A giant fortified structure, Castel Sant’Angelo was first begun by Emperor Hadrian in AD 135 as his mausoleum and has been used subsequently as an armored stronghold, a prison and a papal residence, with a private walled passageway all the way to the Vatican.
6 p.m. - For a sample of quaint and cobbled Rome, away from grandiose spaces and Papal splendors, take a walk along down the river to Trastevere. Enjoy getting lost in its maze of narrow streets en route to a pre-dinner drink in Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere where the beautiful setting merits the somewhat elevated prosecco prices.
9 p.m. - Amidst a wealth of choices for lively bars and eateries, Freni e Frizioni (Via del Politeama 4-6) offers a delicious and generous aperitivo, whilst Da Augusto tucked away in Piazza de’ Renzi is about as genuine a cheap and cheerful trattoria as you’ll find.
10 a.m. - Take a pricey but scenic breakfast in Piazza Navona, arguably Rome’s most spectacular square. In the center stands Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain, finished in 1651 and very recently restored. Here Langdon discovers the body of the fourth and most elevated of the missing Cardinals, drowned to death in the fountain’s waters.
12 p.m. - Taking in the must-see Pantheon and the very pretty Piazza Sant’Ignazio, head east to the impressive Piazza di Pietra for a restorative lunch at Neopolitan restaurant La Caffettiera.
3 p.m. - Heading east from the Corso and Piazza Barberini, make your way down Via XX Settembre to the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria (open 3.30-6pm Sunday).
In the presence of Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa, a spectacular — if controversial — piece of dramatic Baroque sculpture, Langdon here finds an Illuminati abductor in the act of setting the third missing cardinal on fire.
5 p.m. - After contemplating such a gruesome spectacle, take a comforting stroll down the wonderfully peaceful Via dei Giardini. If time allows, pop into the churches of San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane and Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, Baroque gems designed by rivals Borromini and Bernini.
You may also want to pop into San Crispino on Via Panetteria, 42, a discreet but delicious gelateria with spectacular seasonal flavors.
7 p.m. - For good wine with a pretty view, head back toward Navona to Bar della Pace, with terrace tables looking down on the lovely Santa Maria della Pace.
8 p.m. - For a final sample of Italian flavors, try Dittirambo on Piazza della Cancelleria which serves fresh, creative dishes with many organic ingredients or the super cozy Cul de Sac at Piazza Pasquino for a huge array of wines and antipasti dishes.
11 p.m. - For a lasting image of Rome at its finest and a final homage to Langdon’s genius, pay one final visit to Piazza Navona by night. Admire the square a little emptier of tourists and the fountain where Langdon makes his grizzly night-time discovery, theatrically illuminated in the dark.
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Editing by Daniel Flynn and Paul Casciato