Papal apartments open

This item appears on page 63 of the February 2017 issue.

The Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo, once the summer home of the Pope, opened to the public on Oct. 22, 2016.

Occupying 135-acres (more than Vatican City), Pontifical Villas have been Vatican property since 1596, when the property was claimed by Pope Clement VIII to repay a debt. Pope Francis has declined to stay in the Villas, which has allowed them to be opened to the public.

Castel Gandolfo is a small town overlooking Lake Albano in the Alban Hills, roughly 15 miles southeast of Rome. 

Visitors can see art and artifacts treasured by popes throughout the years and even visit the bedroom where popes Piux XII and Paul VI died, the same bedroom where Pope John Paul II would recover from his attempted assassination. The Villas were also where Pope Benedict XVI ended his papacy.

The Villas are closed every Sunday and on major Catholic holidays. They are open 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Mon.-Sat. (and until 5:30 p.m. on some Saturdays). Entry, €10 (near $11) or €26 for a private guided tour. Tours can be prebooked online at Click on “Pontifical Residence of Castel Gandolfo.”