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Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo - flower
Castel Gandolfo - GuardsCastel Gandolfo - PiazzaCastel Gandolfo - Lake

Castel Gandolfo is situated on the edge of the lake Albano which itself is located inside a crater of an ancient volcano. Castel Gandolfo is one of the smallest cities in the Castelli Romani region, only boasting approximately 8840 inhabitants. On the other hand, it is one of most scenic and beautiful places in Italy. From its position on top of a hill, it offers a wonderful view on Lake Albano.

Castel Gandolfo is best known for the summer residence that Pope Urban VIII had constructed in 1628. Plans for the palace were designed by the architect Carlo Moderno. As time passed, Castel Gandolfo became the official summer residence for the different popes.

Things to see

Castel Gandolfo became one of the ancient Romans’ favorite summer destinations. Many aristocratic families built their own houses and palaces, such as the Villa Domitian. Domitian was the last emperor of the Flavian Dynasty. Villa Domitian had been built on the western part of the hill overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Emperors Hadrian, Septimus and Constantine all enjoyed the villa as well. In 1221, the villa was the Savelli family’s property but because of the numerous debts they had, Pope Clement VIII added the villa to the Holy See’s property. In 1929, via the Lateran Treaty, Benito Mussolini offered the villa back to the Vatican City and was listed among the buildings with extra territorial privilege.

In spring 2014, Pope Francis opened the gardens of the pope’s residence to the public so now, it is possible to admire the Barberini Gardens and enjoy a breathtaking view of Lake Albano. There is even a small guided group visit which lasts approximately one hour. In August, some Papal audiences were given in Castel Gandolfo.