One of Borgo's most interesting features runs above street level but is rarely accessible. Called Il Passetto di Borgo, it is a fortified, medieval-era corridor that served as a covered walkway linking the Vatican to Castel Sant'Angelo, a fortress just beyond Borgo's border. Pope Clement VII used it to scurry to safety during the sack of Rome in 1527.
Opened occasionally for tourists, as it was a few summers ago, the Passetto offers strollers a peek into Roman houses built practically smack up against the bricked arches beneath it. In the last weeks of Benedict's papacy, the Vatican and Italy's culture ministry signed an accord for restoration work that would allow public access again.
Borgo seems to end abruptly because two streets were removed during Benito Mussolini's rule and replaced by the broad Via della Conciliazione, stretching between a bridge over the Tiber and St. Peter's Square.
The main street, Borgo Pio, ends suddenly too, at a modern, brick-faced building that now houses a Catholic university but once was a local porn theater. In Rome, the sacred and the profane are rarely far apart.
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