Vatican Radio is officially reporting today that the papal gardens at Castel Gandolfo, some of the most renowned gardens in the world, were opened to the public on the orders of Pope Francis this past Saturday. The gardens surround the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo, and they will reportedly remain open for public viewing until further notice. In a statement about the decision to open the previously private grounds, the Holy Father called the gardens a place “where the splendor of art and the glory of nature co-exist in admirable equilibrium.”
Visitors will be able to take a one and a half hour tour of the papal gardens on Monday through Saturday. The grounds will be closed on Sunday in observance of the Lord’s Day. Anyone will be able to book a tour through an online tour booking system. The papal gardens at Castel Gandolfo are sometimes called the Barberini Gardens, and they are said to have been cultivated on the site of an ancient villa that belonged to the Roman Emperor Domitian. The grounds are also home to a farm that supplies milk, eggs, vegetables, and honey for the Vatican. During World War II, Pope Pius XII allowed war refugees, including a great many Jews, sanctuary in the papal villa and on the grounds, over which the Vatican enjoys extra-territorial rights.