"Castel Gandolfo - Summer blessings & fun!" Top 5 Page for this destination Castel Gandolfo by icunme

Castel Gandolfo Travel Guide: 32 reviews and 76 photos

More than a summer Papal retreat

Best known as the summer residence of the Pope, Castel Gandolfo provides the unique opportunity to see the Pope in a much more intimate setting than you have in Rome at St. Peter's.

Castel Gandolfo is one of the Castelli Romani, 16 historic towns dotted around the wooded Alban Hills and dominated by grand villas. Castel Gandolfo is little more than a pretty village clustered around the Papal Palace and the extensive gardens enjoyed by John Paul II. One of the first acts of his successor, Benedict XVI was to thank the people of Castel Gandolfo and assure them that he, too, would be spending his summers in their "beautiful little town" above Lake Albano.

Much of Castel Gandolfo is discreetly dedicated to the various Pontifical villas and religious foundations. The Papal Palace - with astronomical observatory attached - dominates Piazza della Libertà, but other locations, like the sprawling papal gardens, are tucked away out of sight.

On the main square, Piazza della Libertà, the church of San Tommaso di Villanova, designed by Bernini, sits down fr om the palace gateway. As well as a couple of cafes, there are also a few shops selling tourist fripperies in the piazza, perhaps with an eye to the faithful who arrive on summer Sundays to see the Pope.

The fountain you see here was planned by Bernini and dates back to 1661. The design is inspired by the plant of San Pietro and is similar to the Sant'Andrea della Valle fountain in Rome. The four spurts are supplied by fresh waters coming from the ancient "Malafitto" water system.

The papal tradition of spending summer here dates back to Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644). However, it wasn't the first time that an important Roman had summered on this spot; the pontifical gardens of the seventeenth-century Villa Barberini cover the site of a villa belonging to the Roman Emperor Domitian. The Pope's gardens are truly spectacular, but sadly not open to the general public. With splendid views reaching over the plain to the sea, they contain extensive formal areas, farmland and a large chamber dating back to the time of Domitian.

Castel Gandolfo is a sleepy little town and it's a pleasant spot to spend a few relaxing hours. The area is renowned for its local produce, and several establishments offer you the chance to taste and buy wine, meat and other local specialities. The town offers an excellent opportunity to appreciate Italian small-town atmosphere.

We drove to Castel Gandolfo on a quiet August Saturday with no traffic in 25 minutes from Trastevere. (More on transportation tip)

There is a tourist information kiosk (limited opening) close to the piazza (under an arch and down a slope) on Via Massimo d'Azeglio.

The town has a peach festival, the Sagra delle Pesche, on the
third Sunday in July. The patron saint is San Sebastiano, whose saint's day is celebrated in September.

The entire region of Castelli Romani is known for the excellence of their Frascati wines. For an idea of the controls maintained by the Frascati Consortium, a visit to this site will be informative: http://www.consorziofrascati.it/english/frame.html
By sending via cellular phone a S.M.S. stating the guarantee seal number on the neck of the bottle to the number 340 767.50.82, the computerized system will immediately answer, returning to your phone a message indicating the name of the bottler, the typology of wine, the year, the alcoholic degree, the fixed acidity, the dry extract. Amazing!

Linked with Castel Gandolfo is Lago Albano (referred to also as Lake Gandolfo) - check those pages for lakeside activity - and there is much - water sports and romantic nightlife. A healthy dose of fun with your blessings!

Vista - a grand view - linger, look and enjoy!

Surprise - Walk around the corner of the church of San Tommaso di Villanova and you will be greeted by a spectacular vista with panoramic view of Lago Albano and the lower Castel Gandolfo city.

Now for the fun - Castel Gandolfo on Lago Albano

Decend from the upper Castel Gandolfo to the bottom where you are lakeside and you will find lots of activity. Water sports abound on this lake, a unique garden beach setting (tip: Spiaggi Verde - the green beach), and wonderful night dancing at La Perla (tip: nightlife). More than just the Papal summer retreat here!

A ton of fun Lago Albano

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Again - religion and rollicking side-by-side
  • In a nutshell:A lovely day-trip from Rome - two days are even better!
  • Last visit to Castel Gandolfo: Aug 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (8)

Comments (14)

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Sep 3, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    What lovely photographs and it must be wonderful to see the Pope in person. Nice page!

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Feb 11, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Castles by the water are two of the better scenes in life. We have not seen enough of them yet, so are planning a one month trip to Croatia along the coast in May-much Italiano influence. Great job of pictures.

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Sep 17, 2009 at 5:58 AM

    Hi Carol, it is pleasure to visit with you Castel Gondolfo and lago Albano. Are the Frascati wines produced in this area?

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Sep 16, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    Beautiful photos of this totally scenic area. I never knew that the Popes had been coming here so long, starting with Pope Urban VIII in the seventeenth century.

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    Sep 12, 2009 at 5:41 AM

    Castel Gandolfo - the name of which I know so well - still is on the waiting list for my future visit. In the meantime thanks for sharing.

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    Sep 5, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    Goutam - per info on transportation tip, Castel Gandolfo is 15 miles - approximately 24 kilometers southeast of Rome - a good day trip. Grazie, Carol

  • goutammitra's Profile Photo
    Sep 5, 2009 at 4:32 AM

    Great Page. Why not hotel tip. How far is this place from Rome?

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Aug 28, 2009 at 10:20 AM

    I suspect when I hit Rome in October you'll be upset if we don't have a meet. Nice pages by the way and Bernini is also admired in this neck of the woods. Cheers

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo
    Aug 27, 2009 at 4:02 AM

    Fabulously written page and tips. Thank you for the tour.

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Aug 25, 2009 at 7:31 AM

    Inviting peaceful lake and lots of outdoor cafes... it's all I need!

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