- Visit the fairy-tale villa where popes have come to escape the hustle and bustle of the Vatican since the 17th century
- Tour around beautiful gardens, built into the ruins of Emperor Domitian’s own 2,000 year-old country residence
- Listen to the audio guide to learn delightfully peculiar stories about the many popes who used the villas as their sanctum
This divine property has provided peace and quiet to more than 30 popes since it was built in the early 17th century. Get the papal treatment as you skip the line and enter the Papal Gardens. Overlooking the sapphire blue and emerald green waters of Lake Albano, this stunning complex is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Rome.
Located in tiny Castel Gandolfo, one of Italy’s most scenic towns, the Papal Palace complex spans 55 hectares - 11 more than the Vatican (which makes Pope Francis the only person whose holiday home is bigger than the country he governs).
This prime land ended up in papal hands back in 1596, when the once-mighty Savelli family lost the plot (to bankruptcy). Decades later, Pope Urban VIII ordered the construction of a country home here; the views across the lake and of the surrounding hills are spectacular. The audio guide will fill your ears with some high quality papal trivia as you're being driven around. Find out which pontiff installed a swimming pool, and which one laid low in Castel Gandolfo for months after handing in his resignation.
Just recently Pope Francis, aka Cool Pope, opened a huge portion of these premises to the public. So you can spend a few hours strolling the lush tree-lined gardens and, of course, viewing the remains of Emperor Domitian’s residence.
The next pope might not be as open minded, so in a few years the gardens could close to the public once again. This could be your best chance to see something that for 400 years only the Holy could See.
Piazza della Libertà, 00120 Castel Gandolfo
- Entrance to the Papal Gardens
- Audio-guided tour of the Papal Villa in eco-friendly transport
- Transportation to Castel Gandolfo
How to use your tickets
Just show your digital ticket at the Apostolica Palace (Castel Gandolfo) entrance and walk right in!
Take the train from Roma Termini Station to Albano, get off at Castel Gandolfo.