Castel Gandolfo is a town of about 8,800 inhabitants in the province of Rome, located in the Roman Castels area. Known for centuries to be the pope's summer residence, Castel Gandolfo is considered one of the most beautiful and evocative places in Italy. During the summer holidays, especially in August, you can attend the Papal Audience at Castel Gandolfo.
The territory of Castel Gandolfo extends along the coast of Lake Albano, a portion of which is included in the Regional Park of Castelli Romani. There are also interesting archaeological sites in the area such as the 'Passage way of Lake Albano’, the remains of the Villa of Domitian and artistic points of interest such as the Collegiate Church of St Thomas of Villanova, built by Bernini.
HISTORY OF CASTEL GANDOLFO
Castel Gandolfo was built on the site of the famous pre-Roman era city of Alba Longa which was founded by Ascanius but later razed by the Romans. Between the Roman Republic and the Imperial Rome era, Castel Gandolfo began as a summer destination for Romans to spend their holidays in the many beautiful villas around the lake. The most famous of which was the Villa of Domitian.
Castel Gandolfo in the Middle Ages became the property of the Counts of Tusculum, who then passed it on to the Gandolfi family. In 1221 the castle came under the possession of the Savelli family. Due to a bad economy and high debts, the castle was included in the list of goods to be forfeited to the Holy See at the behest of Pope Clement VIII. In the following years, many restorations were carried as well as the construction of two tunnels that connected Albano Laziale to Castel Gandolfo. In 1628 Pope Urban VIII was the first Pope to stay in Castel Gandolfo, in the villa which was built by the Cardinal. In 1798, after the arrival of the French, Castel Gandolfo was united with the city of Albano, on February 21st , but the town rose up against the French along with other inhabitants of the Castelli Romani. With the return of Pope Pius VII, Castel Gandolfo came back under the ruling of the Sacred Palace Butler until September 1870. On September 20, 1870 with the capture of Porta Pia and the arrival of sharpshooters in Rome, The Papel State officially came to an end. Pope Pius IX and his successors did not re-enter the Castle until 1929. On 11 February 1929 with the publication of the Lateran Pacts, Benito Mussolini gave the new State of Vatican City possession of the Papal Palace and the adjacent houses, for a total of forty-four hectares.
THINGS TO SEE IN CASTEL GANDOLFO
Pontifical College of St Thomas of Villanova: Built in 1658, in place of the parish church of St Nicholas, the college was commissioned by Pope Alexander VII and designed by the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The project was completed in 1661. The church has a square cross plan with a dome resting on Doric pillars. Inside there are important religious artworks including the painting depicting the crucifixion of Christ by Pietro da Cortona. You can also admire the painting dedicated to the saint and some precious decorative stucco.
Church of Our Lady of the Lake: The church was strongly supported by Pope Paul VI, which was consecrated in 1977 on the shores of Lake Albano.
Church of Santa Maria Assunta: Built in 1619, the church was the site of the PP. Reformed Franciscans and later passed to the Congregation of Propaganda Fide, tragically bombed by the Anglo-American Allies on February 10, 1944.
Papal Palace: The palace was built around 1628 by Pope Urban VIII, who commissioned the project to the great architect Carlo Maderno. The palace was built on a pre-existing structure of the ancient Castrum Gandulphorum, the feudal castle belonging to the Gandolfi and Savelli. Inside the Palace you can see a beautiful private chapel, which houses an image of Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine.
Papal Villa: The construction, which enjoys the status of extra-territoriality and possession of the State of Vatican City, is actually composed of three historically distinct parts: the Papal Gardens, Cybo Villa and Villa Barberini, which were incorporated into the complex of the Pontifical Villas in 1929.
Santa Caterina Villa: Currently owned by the Pontifical North American College, several famous Roman ruins have been found within.
Villa Torlonia: Built in the sixteenth century by the Roman family Giustiniani , it became the property of the Duke of Bracciano Giuseppe Torlonia. The current state is due to the restorations made in 1829, commissioned by Duke Carlo Torlonia.
Villa of Publius Clodius Pulcher: The remains of this Roman villa were discovered in Villa Santa Caterina, owned by the Pontifical North American College. History tells us that it was in the vicinity of this villa where Clodius was killed by his political opponent Tito Annio Milone in August 54 BC.
Villa Titus Flavius Domitian: The monument ruins of the Imperial Roman villa built by Domitian (81-96),are located here in Villa Barberini, an extra-territorial area of the Pontifical Villas. The villa was built on three terraces of about 500 meters long each. There were hunting games, as well as festivals to honor Demeter held outside of the villa.
Regional Park of Castelli Romani: A large part of the territory of Castel Gandolfo is part of the regional park, including the shores of Lake Albano. The town of Castel Gandolfo is also part of the park as well as the main forest areas and the areas around Lake Albano. For more information you can visit the web site of Parco Regionale dei Castelli Romani.
HOW TO GET TO CASTEL GANDOLFO
Take the SS 7 Appia Nuova and the exit n. 23 of G.R.A., from here prosegue in direction of Castel Gandolfo.
From Termini Train Station take the train for Albano Laziale and get off at Castel Gandolfo.
From Rome take the subway (Line A) and get off at stop "Anagnina"; from here prosegue with CO.TRA.L bus line Roma – Castel Gandolfo.
From all the other information you can visit the website of the Municipality of Castel Gandolfo.