When Pope Benedict XVI was elected on April 19th, he inherited more than just the leadership of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics. He also got a really nice vacation property just 14 miles southeast of Rome.
Castel Gandolfo is a small town on the shore of Lake Albano. It first came under the patronage of the Holy See in 1604, when it was acquired by pope clement the 8th, and in subsequent years was held by a number of different authorities. In 1929 the Lateran Treaty cede the Apostolic Palace to the Holy See, as well as the territory of Vatican City and the Lateran Palace in Rome. The Vatican Observatory moved there in 1936.
During the pontificate of John Paul II, the Holy Father would often spend six weeks at Castel Gandolfo. He would often conduct his Wednesday public audiences there.
In addition to the Apostolic Palace, a 17th century building designed by artist and architect Carlo Maderno, Castel Gandolfo is known for it’s spectacular gardens. The local parish church, St. Thomas of Villanova, was designed by Bernini.
It’s unknown at this point if Pope Benedict will choose to vacation at Castel Gandolfo as his predecessors have done. But given the Holy Father’s long career in Rome, it’s likely he’ll take advantage of the town’s cool respite from Rome’s summer heat.