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Visit Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer home (as he doesn’t)



August 11, 2014

Castel Gandolfo from Albano Laziale

Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer home near Rome is now open to the public by guided tour as Pope Francis has chosen for a second summer not to go there. So what’s it like?

Formal Belvedere gardens of Castel Gandolfo

Formal Belvedere gardens of Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo has been the cool hill-top summer retreat of popes since 1626, sitting atop the Alban Hills only 25Km from Rome. Former Pope Benedict spent his last hours as Pope there in prayer and meditation.

From 1st Century ruins of the Emperor Domitian’s summer villa (including a 100m long ‘cryptoportico’ where he could stroll both shaded and unobserved) to massive formal gardens planted during the 1930s, the 17 acres of garden are meticulously maintained (as you would expect), ready for any time the Pope might decide to drop by.

Belvedere gardens frame scenic vistas across Lake Albano, as you can see in this video.

Castel Gandolfo also has a large productive farm (not usually part of the 90 minute tour) that produces milk, eggs, honey, olive oil, vegetables and there’s now a recently planted vineyard.

Garden tours are held Monday-Saturday and cost € 26,00 per person. Bookings are essential through the Vatican Museums and you must dress appropriately ie no shorts, singlets or mini dresses.

To see the Castel Gandolfo brochure, click here.

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