I was standing in awe of the Trevi Fountain, in the centre of Rome, when Mark inspired me to return to Dan Brown’s book, Angels and Demons. I had started it a number of times following the DaVinci Code, but couldn’t get past the beginning. This would be the third and final time. The book, Angels and Demons, takes the reader on a treasure hunt around Rome, in search of a villain and the stolen antimatter. What better time to read this book than while in Rome.
During our first day we explored the hidden treasures of the Forum and the magnificent Coliseum. It was incredible to walk down into a 2000 year old city which had once been buried underground. The tour explained the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and we saw where Julius Caesar’s ashes were buried. We were impressed by the grand scale of the Coliseum and in awe of how it could have been built, so many years ago. Robert and Vittoria only saw these amazing sites from a helicopter, on their way to the Vatican, but we were able to experience them the way they should be, from the ground level.
|To live or die….that is the question...|
|Outside the Coliseum, spectacular!|
Our next day took us to the Pantheon and the tomb of Raphael, believed to be the first element, Earth, that would lead us to the Illuminati. It only led us to Giolitti, which happened to be the most spectacular wonder we ever set sight on. What could be more magnificent than five thousand flavours of gelato, topped off with a dollop of fresh cream? On our second visit, we discovered you could order your cone filled with cream! This must certainly be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, definitely not Earth, but perhaps… heaven! Funny that Dan Brown never mentioned this site in his novel, perhaps he wanted it all for himself.
|Heaven on Earth!|
|I'm not sure if this was taken during our third or fourth visit! Oh my...|
The angels pointed us in the direction of Piazza Nuova, where we saw The Fountain of the Four Rivers, and the element of water. It turned out this was the famous fountain mentioned in the book, not the Trevi fountain, but regardless, both were spectacular. Although we did not witness the demise of a cardinal, we did see the police take down a purse peddler, which was quite entertaining. While we toured around Rome looking for the other elements, the antimatter remained at large somewhere in the Vatican, ready to destroy all of Christianity. Unfortunately, we did not make much headway past the water element, due to torrential down pours, thunder, lightening and power outages.
After two full days, we emerged from the trailer to the outside world, we felt like Noah leaving the arc. Finally, the rain had stopped. Pope Francesco I was presiding over the service in St. Peter’s Square, and we were excited to be in attendance. The masses of people were overwhelming and we were thankful to have arrived early enough to get fairly close to the alter. Although the service was in Italian, we were able to follow along and take part as we would at home (on the rare occasion when we actually made it to church). I couldn’t help but let my mind wander back to the events in Angels and Demons. I imagined the smoke rising from the chimney during conclave, the crypts where the previous Popes were buried, and the secret archives. It just so happened that Pope Francesco I was presenting bone fragments of the late St. Peter, during the service. They had found considerable evidence to suggest that the bone fragments belonged to the first Pope, and were more than 2,000 years old. I wondered if Dan Brown knew they existed. Regardless, we didn’t have much time to find the other elements, and locate the antimatter before it destroyed Vatican City!
|Vatican City, Rome.|
|Pope Francis - Francesco the First|
|We got to see the Pope mobile right up close, Mark took video.|
|The Pope's Swiss Guard.|
Our final day in Rome took us to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. We were in awe of the frescoes, glass mosaics and stunning sculptures. I couldn’t imagine all that we saw, being lost in the name of Science. Thankfully, our tour of Rome ended well, as do most fictional books, and Vatican City remained standing. For how long though, was the question, as Mark made it through security not once, but twice, with his Swiss army knife. I suppose a knife does not pose much security risk to the city, but those numerous pairs of little scissors on the scanner – now they were the real threat! The girls have added Angels and Demons to their reading list, and we all headed off to Barcelona, Spain. I wondered what adventures would await us there.
|St. Peter's Basilica - so grand!|
|The Vatican Museum.|
|Ally's illegal shot of the Sistine Chapel|
|On the Spanish Steps in Rome, kind of neat that we are actually headed to Spain next.|
|We thought this indoor snow part was so funny in Rome, they charge admission, rent out snow boots|
and the kids get to play in the white stuff.