Castel Gandolfo is a small wine town on the volcanic slopes of the Alban Hills, famous for the summer palace of the Popes.
Castel Gandolfo is part of the “Castelli Romani“, the Roman castles to which the feudal Roman families retreated in the heat of the summer. Famous wine villages are located here and traditional agriculture produces many delicious local specialties.
Castel Gandolfo offers a beautiful view of the volcanic lake Lago di Albano and the surrounding area. It is a popular destination for tourists who want to experience the history and culture of Rome.
The Apostolic Palace
Castel Gandolfo has been home to the summer palace of the popes since the 17th century, which today belongs to the Vatican State. Since Pope Francis has decided not to use the palace as a summer residence, it can be visited year-round. Visitors can tour the magnificent apartments of the Popes, including the Audience Hall, the Papal Garden and the Chapel. There are also several museums in the palace, including the Papal Museum, which exhibits the personal belongings of the Popes.
The Apostolic Palace is located in the historic center of the town. The distance to the train station, which is located on the slope between the lake and the palace, is 1 km / 0.6 miles.
The current opening hours can be found at the information of the ticket providers.
The Gardens of the Villa Barberini
A highlight is the Pope’s Garden, a beautiful botanical garden that houses an impressive collection of plants from around the world. The garden is a popular place for walks and offers breathtaking views of Lake Albano and the surrounding mountains.
Villa Barberini was built by Taddeo Barberini, nephew of Pope Urban VIII, in the 17th century. The work for the restoration of the building and for the gardens was probably entrusted to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who also built St. Peter’s Square.
It is thanks to Pope Francis that the gardens are now open to the public. It is possible to explore the gardens on a guided walk or by taking an eco-friendly bus.
Special train from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo
An exclusive offer is the special train from Vatican City to Castel Gandolfo. It runs once a week during the season.
The day begins with a visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Then it goes through the gardens to the Vatican’s private train station and from there by train to Castel Gandolfo. There you can visit the gardens and the Apostolic Palace and finally the train goes back to the public station of San Pietro.
The wine village Castel Gandolfo
Castel Gandolfo is also home to several historic churches, including the Church of S. Tommaso di Villanova, which was built in the 16th century and houses a valuable collection of artwork.
Overall, Castel Gandolfo is a place full of history and beauty that is well worth a visit. Also noteworthy are the gastronomy and viticulture. Well-known names of the Castelli Romani are Frascati DOC, Marino DOC, Velletri DOC and Colli Lanuvini DOC. The grapes from Castel Gandolfo go to the Gotto d’Oro and Fontana di Papa wineries.
In the center of town there are some nice restaurants where you can have a bite to eat overlooking Lake Albano. There are also very good and very exclusive restaurants. Very exclusive and very romantic is the restaurant Pagnanelli on the edge of the center.
How to get to Castel Gandolfo
Very convenient is the hourly train connection from Termini Central Station to Castel Gandolfo on the line to Albano Laziale.
There are regular regional bus connections from Roma Anagnina on Via Appia. However, then you have to walk 2 km / 1.3 miles up the hill. There is a Castel Gandolfo / Palazzo Apostolico stop in the center, but with very sporadic connections.
For all connections from Rome to Castel Gandolfo you need either one-way tickets or the regional ticket Birg 3 zones.