The Retirees Go Abroad – Museo Nazioanale Di Castel Sant’Angelo

Unfortunately lunch was a bit disappointing but the afternoon held the promise of a visit to the Castel Sant’Angelo now a museum.
Part of the benefits of the Omnia pass is the use of the Roma Christiana Bus tour for 3 days. This is your usual “red bus” or open top bus tour of the major attractions in the city only this time the bus is painted yellow. So we boarded the bus to do the tour and finish at stop 1 to visit the castle. The tour, as with all such tours, gave us a good understanding of where things were and the distances between them.
Arriving back at the castle we were at first taken back by the shape which is a large circular tower with a further tower inside it. Castel Sant’Angelo (English: Castle of the Holy Angel), is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.
Entering the castle the usual Italian thing happens – you realise there is little guidance about how to view the building or what it is you are viewing. So we followed our noses and ended up in a corridor inside the centre tower going up the middle of the tower. De je vu! This was very much like the Keep (tower) in Windsor Castle except it did not have a cannon pointed at you as you climbed the stairs. We saw the passage the Popes could use to evacuate the Vatican and hide out in the castle and we crossed over what appeared to be a means of securing the inner tower by drawing up the bridge.
We came out onto a deck serving as a patio between administrative rooms and the Popes apartment. Here was a large sculpture of an angel (if the Pope was staying here he needed an angel to protect him). This was once the tallest building in Rome and the views from the castle were pretty spectacular. On this level there is a café with grape vines growing over it. It looked very pleasant and after a nature call I found Kerry had made a friend (see its photo). As you would expect the Papal apartment was well adorned and they had a bloody big money box for all their jewels.
We continued to climb leaving aside the myriad of side passages through the various rooms of the papal apartments until we came to the roof deck with a colossal avenging angel hanging above us. In medieval times this platform would have given a commanding view of the whole of Rome. We could clearly see Victtorio which we visit later in our trip. You can see the Basilica, the river, in fact all around.
We walked down a different path to exit the castle. This was more like the “tradesman” with a wide path for deliveries. Between the inner tower and the outer tower we found a section of paving which had been dated back to Hadrian’s time.
After seeing the castle we decided to walk along the river again to see what we can see. We passed the Courts and poked our heads in and a friendly guard allowed us to poke in a bit further but no photos allowed.
Back on the footpath we noticed that it is not all smooth sailing for all Romans – some still live pretty rough.
As we strolled along we came across a service station Italian style – two bowsers and the cashier – that’s it.
Finally we arrived at Ponte Cavour and the modern fountain of Henri Cartier- Bresson where we rested our tired feet and slaked our thirst with water. By the way a tip for all travellers. When in Rome you will pass public fountains just running and spilling over the footpath. These are perfectly safe and you should fill up your water bottle at the fountain whenever you can.
Rested, we walked up Via Tomacelli into Via Condotti on our way back to the Spanish Steps. On our Vatican tour the guide had tipped us off that we can identify the date of things by papal insignia and she gave the example of the three bees for the Barberini pope and the fountain at the Spanish Steps. Sure enough when we inspected here was the insignia. We had been walking all day but according to Kerry we had to climb the Spanish Steps. Why? Because!
So we did. We climbed the steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, and we realised that behind the scaffolding was the Trinità dei Monti church dominating the top of the stairs. We went inside and found the choir was singing so we sat to listen. They were signing in French which struck me as strange then the priest got up and he too spoke in French. We had stumbled across a French church in Rome. As we left the Church we were struck by the pretty sunset. I have shared here the best of my photos of the sunset.
Below the church reminded me of Montmartre with the artists scattered around. We found two pretty sketches of things we have seen bartered heavily with the artist and purchased same. At the top of the stairs we found a plaque stating that the monumental stairway of 135 steps was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below. That made it clear why this area was so “French”.
As the sunset indicates once again we were in the city after sunset with no particular plans for dinner. However close by was an alfresco restaurant on the roof of a building and because we were at the top of the Spanish Steps we could walk across a bridge to the Restaurant. The night air was cool after an unexpectedly and unseasonably warm day, so sitting on top of Rome with a cool breeze a glass of wine and pizza seemed even closer to heaven than in the Basilica. There we met briefly a couple form Florida on a brief holiday getting away from the kids. We shared the evening and atmosphere agreeing that getting the Italians to do anything was like herding cats.
We ended the evening with a trip on the Metro and the bus back to the hotel. The lights of the Jolly Pizza were still burning but we were tried and in need of a rest. So ended day 2.