Until the Vatican chooses a new Pope, the small village of Castel Gandolfo will be a temporary respite for Pope Benedict XVI as he begins his retirement today (Feb. 28). Benedict will eventually move to a convent inside the Vatican, called Mater Ecclesiae, but it is undergoing reconstruction. So what is Castel Gandolfo like? And what might you find on a vacation to region?
The residents of Castel Gandolfo are used to having such a famous guest within their midst. The village has been a summer retreat for Popes for nearly four centuries and Benedict has spent about five weeks a year at the Apostolic Palace at Gandolfo since his papacy in 2005. In the summer visitors often attend Sunday mass in the village to catch a glimpse of the Pope.
The village is in the Lazio region, about 15 miles south of Rome, and sits on the shores of Lake Albano. If you are the type of traveler who likes to find a quiet spot to immerse yourself in the day-to-day of Italian living, then Castel Gandolfo is a lovely spot. There are some nice restaurants including Ristorante La Gardenia, Arte e Vino and Antico Ristorante Pagnanelli. The village in the Lazio region is a typical small town with a main square called the Piazza della Liberta and small shops that sell local produce, meats and wine.
There is a famous church, called San Tommaso di Villanova, built in 1659 by Gian-lorenzo Bernini. Bernini was the successor to Michelangelo is best known for the Piazza San Petro and the collonnades in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The lake offers water sports like sailing, canoeing and windsurfing, as well as hiking and walking. Within a short drive, you can visit the nearby beaches in Gaeta, Formia and Terracina.
There are a few hotels on Castel Gandolfo that get mixed reviews. Hotel Castel Gandolfo is recommended for its location and service (see below). One of the best ways to see the area and save some money is to rent a villa. Depending on the season, one can rent a villa for an entire week for much less money than a few nights in a hotel. To find villas in the Lazio region, I recommend Parker Villas because they certify all their properties to meet American tourist standards. Here is a list of properties in the region.
If you go to the region, I recommend renting a car. The driving can be a bit pazza in Italy. But there is limited public transportation in the area to get you to all the lovely villages, beaches and places to visit nearby.
Hotel Castel Gandolfo
Via dè Zecchini,
27 Castelgandolfo (Roma) - Italy
+39 06 93 60 521
Fax +39 06 93 60 471
Vacation Rentals in Italy
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