What to do and where to eat in Rome: Castel Sant'Angelo

Are you close to Castel Sant’Angelo? Would you like to know what to do and where to eat in this area? Here you are even more: this is the list of the best restaurants near Castel Sant’Angelo.


Castel Sant’Angelo: a little bit of history

The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian, also called Hadrian’s mole, was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 134 and 139 AD. Originally the mausoleum was a decorated cylinder, with a garden top and golden quadriga. Hadrian’s ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217. The urns containing these ashes were probably placed in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building. Hadrian also built the Pons Aelius facing straight onto the mausoleum – it still provides a scenic approach from the center of Rome and the right bank of the Tiber, and is renowned for the Baroque additions of statues of angels holding aloft elements of the Passion of Christ.
Legend holds that the Archangel Michael appeared atop the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590, thus lending the castle its present name. A less charitable yet more apt elaboration of the legend, given the militant disposition of this archangel, was heard by the 15th-century traveler who saw an angel statue on the castle roof. He recounts that during a prolonged season of the plague, Pope Gregory I heard that the populace, even Christians, had begun revering a pagan idol at the church of Santa Agata in Suburra. A vision urged the pope to lead a procession to the church. Upon arriving, the idol miraculously fell apart with a clap of thunder. Returning to St Peter’s by the Aelian Bridge, the pope had another vision of an angel atop the castle, wiping the blood from his sword on his mantle, and then sheathing it. While the pope interpreted this as a sign that God was appeased, this did not prevent Gregory from destroying more sites of pagan worship in Rome.
The popes converted the structure into a castle, beginning in the 14th century; Pope Nicholas III connected the castle to St Peter’s Basilica by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo. The fortress was the refuge of Pope Clement VII from the siege of Charles V’s Landsknechte during the Sack of Rome (1527), in which Benvenuto Cellini describes strolling the ramparts and shooting enemy soldiers.
The Papal state also used Sant’Angelo as a prison; Giordano Bruno, for example, was imprisoned there for six years. Another prisoner was the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. Executions were performed in the small inner courtyard. As a prison, it was also the setting for the third act of Giacomo Puccini’s 1900 opera Tosca; the eponymous heroine leaps to her death from the Castel’s ramparts.
Decommissioned in 1901, the castle is now a museum, the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo.
Today the Castel Sant’Angelo, more than a National Museum, is a place full of life (despite the multiple stories about its ghosts), where are usually held concerts, events e tours.
On the other side of the splendid Ponte sant’Angelo there is a little square with a Methodist Church. This is the site for Concerts of Classic Music and Opera that take place on Fridays and Saturdays. Join our Music in Rome event with Tiramisu tasting and paired wine. The sweetest night you’d imagine in Rome.

When to go

The best period of the day to come and walk around the forum is late afternoon, when the sun goes down and the entire castle and the bridge (Ponte Sant’Angelo) become red and orange, with amazing views everywhere and a lovely and super romantic atmosphere.
The Castle is opened every day, from 9 a.m till 7.30 p.m (ticket office closes at 6.30 p.m). You should always check if there are some temporary shows or particular events (like concerts) in order to book the best tour you can get.

What and where to eat: the best restaurants near Castel Sant’Angelo

One of the best restaurant of this area is definitely La Fraschetta di Castel Sant’Angelo (Via del Banco di Santo Spirito, 20), a lovely and homely restaurant where you can enjoy their amazing home made pasta and some really delicious desserts (try the tiramisù!!); if you are inside Castel Sant’Angelo and you want to take a break or just have a coffee, well, you already are in the right place: right in the middle of the castle there’s a lovely and very simple bar, Coffee in Castel Sant’Angelo, perfect for a nice break or lunch.
The last, but not the least, some advice if you want to taste an amazing gelato. There’s a wonderful gelateria, right in front of Castel Sant’Angelo, on the other side of the river, the Gelateria del Teatro (Via dei Coronari, 65), where you can taste some very strange flavors, or you can go to Chocolat Roma (Via del Banco di Santo Spirito, 22), where, you can imagine, their specialties are the chocolate flavors! Yummy!

How to reach it

Subway, A line: Lepanto; Ottaviano-San Pietro
Autobus: lines 62, 23, 271, 982, 280 (Piazza Pia)
line 40 (Piazza Pia)
line 34 (Via di Porta Castello)
line 49, 87, 926, 990 (Piazza Cavour-fermata via Crescenzio)
line 64, 46 (Santo Spirito)

Contact us

Any enquiry about this article? Write to Alessandra at Alessandra is a local foodie and insider, she studied foreign languages and she speaks English and German. Meet Alessandra and join one of our events.