Castel Sant’Angelo has been through history’s humongous wringer many times, starting out as Hardrian’s tomb (cylindrical, staid, garden on top) then becoming, at various times, an Imperial tomb, a fortress, a prison, a cozy and opulent place for Popes to hang out with their collected treasures and finally, an army barracks. It has now transformed itself into a museum. You should go. With all those uses, the Castel Sant’Angelo is a layer cake of cultural madness.
The place is easily visible on the map, a star along the Tiber. It has its own interesting bridge, riddled with statues. It awaits your visit, with views of Rome that are quite spectacular.
The best place to get on of those views? On the upper level cafe and restaurant called Caffetteria Ristorante Le Terrazze Castel Sant’Angelo. If you happen by in morning you’ll see people casually reading a map or sipping odd coffee drinks that tourists order. You’ll notice there is a great view.
A little further along you’ll see hints of a restaurant…and more enticing slivers of view.
If you open a menu, you will be amazed at the prices for a (very) simple meal or panino. They’re, let’s say “economical” because the word “cheap” is often overused on this stretch of internet alleyway. You can actually treat your whole table to a bottle of Prosecco for 25 euro. Of course, the lunch menu has pictures and is in English, which tells you, the enlightened tourist, that you are the focus here and not Italians, but that’s ok, the coffee was quite good. By that I mean the caffè that comes in a little cuplet of condensed wonderfulness, not the chocolate latte cappuccino frappe spritz with lemon peel the tourist are trying to convince the barista to spend the next half hour preparing.
But what I’m coming to is shown below. If you are lucky, or have perhaps earlier slipped, in rather large bills, the price of an El Lay condo into the hand of the head waiter, you might get this table:
And remember, you’d be sitting on top of all that Papal opulence and art. Not only that, but when you exit the cafe, you can see a little museum of the Italian Risorgimento that stitched the historical territories of the boot into the thing we call Italy. You can see one of the original butcher’s tunics Garibaldi provided to early troops.
History takes some interesting little swerves, doesn’t it?
Unique: Eat Cheap! (for Rome)
The papal apartments—beautiful frescoed rooms. Below them are several floors which include prisons and even a torture chamber.
Web: Caffetteria Ristorante Le Terrazze Castel Sant’Angelo (Closed Monday)
When to Go: Spring or Fall. Summers are hot; Rome is almost deserted by Romans in August. September and October are high season in Rome. Rome Travel Weather and Climate.
Region: Lazio: Map
Days: 3-7 for Rome, half day for Castel Sant Angelo
: Train station: Termini
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