Passetto di Borgo

The Passetto di Borgo, or simply Passetto, is an elevated passage that links the Vatican City with the Castel Sant'Angelo. It is an approximately 800 metres (2,600 ft) long corridor, located in the rione of Borgo. It was erected in 1277 by Pope Nicholas III, but parts of the wall were built by Totila during the Gothic War.

Route of the "Passetto" from the Vatican (in the background) to Castel Sant'Angelo.
The southern side of the "Passetto" seen from the Borgo S. Angelo.
The Passetto in its original context: in background the rear side of Palazzo Rusticucci-Accoramboni seen from Vicolo del Farinone, before the demolition of the neighborhood (c.a 1930)
Over the Passetto, going towards the Vatican.

On at least two occasions it served as an escape route for Popes in danger. Pope Alexander VI crossed it in 1494, when Charles VIII invaded the city and the pope's life was in peril. Clement VII escaped to safety through this passage during the Sack of Rome in 1527, when troops of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, massacred almost the entire Swiss Guard on the steps of St Peter's Basilica.

In popular cultureEdit

The Passetto played a key role in the Dan Brown novel Angels & Demons, through which the antagonist (an illuminatus) transported four abducted cardinals to the Castel Sant'Angelo. The protagonists Robert Langdon and Vittoria Vetra later used the Passetto as a shortcut to Vatican City.

The Passetto also appears in the videogame Assassin's Creed II, whose protagonist Ezio Auditore Da Firenze fights his way along it on the way from the Castle to the Sistine Chapel.

See alsoEdit


  • D'Onofrio, Cesare (1978). Castel Sant'Angelo e Borgo tra Roma e Papato. Romana Società Editrice, Roma.
  • Di Fiume, Mark (2000). Sogno nel Passetto?. Ballo Editrice, Bologna.
  • Augias, Corrado (2007). The secrets of Rome : love & death in the eternal city. New York, Rizzoli Ex Libris. ISBN 9780847829330.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 41°54′12″N 12°27′42″E / 41.90333°N 12.46167°E / 41.90333; 12.46167