Tag Archives: Palazzo Apostolico

The Pope doesn’t sleep here

27 Oct
At least the current pope, Papa Francesco, does not sleep in the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo. He has abnegated the luxury of a vacation residence and opened the doors to the public; At least to anyone willing to pay €10.00 for entrance.
The Apostolic Palace dominates the square in Castel Gandolfo.
The Apostolic Palace dominates the square in Castel Gandolfo.
In September we visited the Gardens of the Pontifical Villa, thinking we were in Castel Gandolfo. In actuality, the gardens are part of Villa Barberini in Albano Laziale and when we exited the garden tour we were a long walk from the little town of Castel Gandolfo. So we vowed to return while the weather was good.
Pope's view of Lago Albano.
Pope’s view of Lago Albano.
Early in the morning the flow of commuters from small towns storm Stazione Termini like an invading horde. The incoming trains are packed with briefcase-toting-suit-wearers and women tottering on impossibly high heels, and it seems everyone is puffing on a post-commute cigarette. We were blessed with an out-of-Roma trip, against the onrush of workers, accompanied by a very few Romans who actually get to leave the city for work.
A quick 40-minute ride through the countryside, passing Ciampino Airport and a handful of small towns, brought us to Castel Gandolfo. Then a 15-minute slog walk up the hill landed us in the town square where any number of little bars awaited our arrival. We found seats and a cappuccino in the 15-degree Celsius sunshine with a full view of the Apostolic Palace, aka, Papal Palace, aka Pontifical Villa or most commonly in Italian Palazzo Apostolico. Take your pick.
A Bernini angel...at least the audio guide claims it is his work.
A Bernini angel…at least the audio guide claims it is his work.
Writing set of Pope Pius VIII. Sorry about the glare. It is under glass for its protection.
Writing set of Pope Pius VIII. Sorry about the glare. It is under glass for its protection.
As instructed, 20 minutes before our tour time of 10:00, we approached the guard who welcomed us warmly and sent us up a flight of stairs to enter the museum. We were equipped with audio tour devices and sent on our way to self-guide, well before the clock chimed 10:00. We were the only people in the entire museum!
Now before you get to thinking that we ran giddily through the papal vacation home, jumping on the beds and checking inside the refrigerator, the public is not allowed in any area that would be considered an apartment. The museum consists largely of select papal portraits along with some special accoutrements, and the accompanying audio guide tells some of the fascinating history behind these powerful men.
The portrait of Papa Francesco is in a very different style from his predecessors.
The portrait of Papa Francesco is in a very different style from his predecessors.
We enjoyed the tour very much, even if we did not get to see the Papal bathroom. There’s one of those at Castel Sant’Angelo anyway.
Papal throne and entourage.
Papal throne and entourage.
In 6 1/2 hours we went from our home to Castel Gandolfo by bus and train, had coffee (always on the agenda), took the tour, and were back home in time for lunch. If one wanted to have lunch in CG — and why not with that view of the lake! — I would actually recommend the 11:00 tour followed by a leisurely lunch. Trains back to Roma are frequent. Would I spend an entire vacation day doing this on my first trip to Roma? Absolutely no. But when you have been here as long as we have, or visit annually like some of our friends, it’s fun to find new places to explore.
There are many restaurants that take advantage of the fine lake view.
There are many restaurants that take advantage of the fine lake view.
Info on tickets for the sites in Castel Gandolfo and Albano Laziale can be found here.
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