Il tema di Ascanio
Taddei e Angelini
Castel Sant’Angelo

Il tema di Ascanio is a comic-book story by Marco Taddei and Simone Angelini, set at the Castel Sant’Angelo National Museum.

What is poor Ascanio to do? In the melee of tourists, he has lost his teachers and classmates. How he is going to write his essay now about the trip to Castel Sant’Angelo? Luckily, a weird little man comes over. Laughing non-stop, the guy offers to be his guide. Should he trust him? Why not? His new friend seems so knowledgeable… and introduces him to so many characters! Cellini, Giordano Bruno, Beatrice Cenci, even a Pope… But the biggest surprise awaits Ascanio at the end… of a truly unforgettable school trip!

Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo owes its name to the medieval legend that the Archangel Michael appeared on this spot to Pope Gregory the Great to announce the end of the plague in 590. Its real history is, however, far older. It was in fact built by Emperor Hadrian in the second century to house his remains and those of his descendants, for which reason it is also known as Hadrian’s Mausoleum. Over the centuries, while other Roman monuments fell into ruins, the building’s life has been prolonged through an uninterrupted series of transformations, from a mausoleum to an impregnable fortress, a prison, a splendid Renaissance mansion, a barracks and now a national museum. A visit to Castel Sant’Angelo therefore encapsulates the entire history of the Eternal City.

Livin’ Like a Pope at Castel Sant’Angelo
The first thing to say about Castel Sant’Angelo is that it’s chock full of stories. What struck us most of all, more than the places, details and spaces, were the stories. Piquant tales about all those popes, the desperate fate that awaited the prisoners, Clement VII who enjoyed hot water while Rome was besieged by Landsknecht Protestant mercenaries, Benvenuto Cellini made good his escape down a rope that wasn’t quite long enough so he broke his leg... Not to mention the irony that this ancient mausoleum has become a place overflowing with life… Overflowing with lives, actually. And walls, which kept dozens and dozens of armies at bay. And Julius II’s loggia; the harpsichord, that old papal strummer; monkeys frescoed onto the walls of Paul III’s reception hall; sumptuous cellars, hard by the jail cells; the terrace and its inexplicable portholes; and the photon burst that is the Roman sky...
Taddei and Angelini.
Marco Taddei (Vasto, 1979) is a writer. Simone Angelini (Pescara, 1980) is a comic-strip artist. Working together, they created ANUBI (GRRRz, 2015), which the readers of La Repubblica XL selected to win a prize at Napoli COMICON 2015, and in 2016 won the Premio Boscarato for the “Best Italian Comic Strip” at TCBF. After their character Anubi appeared in new stories in Linus, in 2016 they came up with Malloy and Storie Brevi e Senza Pietà (Panini Comics). In 2018, Coconino Press - Fandango published Horus and republished Anubi. In 2019, they brought out a horror comic, 4 Vecchi di merda. They are currently working on their next graphic novel: Enrico.
The Pauline Hall
This was the room of the papal apartments where Pope Paul III, the architect of the Counter-Reformation, received his distinguished guests. It was decorated between 1545 and 1547 by Perin del Vaga and his numerous assistants with episodes in the life of Alexander the Great, an evident allusion to the pope's own name, Alessandro Farnese, as well as depictions of the cardinal virtues, Hadrian, the Archangel Michael and scenes in the life of St Paul.
The Bolzano helmet
The armoury of Castel Sant’Angelo includes one of the earliest flat-topped helmets, a great helm, also known in Italy as a staro, the name of a cylindrical measure for a bushel of grain. Tradition has it that this helmet comes from a castle near Bolzano and was owned by a knight of the Teutonic Order at the end of the 13th century.
The bathroom of Pope Clement VII
This small, rectangular room contains a tub with an elaborate heating system based on the model of the Roman baths and connected with a stove looking out onto the adjacent Courtyard of Leo X. Used as a bathroom for the papal apartments, it was decorated for Clement VII by Giovanni da Udine, a pupil of Raphael specializing in grotesques.
Statue of the Archangel Michael
The Courtyard of the Angel is dominated by a statue of the Archangel Michael in the centre attributed to the sculptor and architect Raffaello da Montelupo, a favourite of Pope Paul III. The sole survivor of numerous statues of the archangel, it originally stood on top of the building and was moved to its present location in the courtyard during the 18th century. It was restored by Bernini in 1660 after being seriously damaged.
Ponte Sant’Angelo 1
Passetto di Borgo 2
Loggia di Giulio II 3
Bagnetto di Clemente VII 4
La Cagliostra 5
Terrazza dell’Angelo 6