Castel Gandolfo papal gardens open to public

Pope opens gardens of his summer residence to visitors

Pope Francis has opened the gardens of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolofo to the public as from 1 March.

The so-called Barberini gardens at Castel Gandolfo are located in the Alban hills about 25km south-east of the capital, and have spectacular views over Lake Albano.

The 30-hectare gardens feature ancient Roman ruins dating back to Emperor Domitian as well as a square of holly oaks, paths of roses and aromatic herbs, and a magnolia garden.

Pope Francis decided to open the gardens “where the splendor of art and the glory of nature co-exist in admirable equilibrium,” according to a statement released by the Vatican.

The 55-hectare papal retreat, which includes a 25-hectare Vatican farm, has been a holiday residence for the popes since the 17th century. Under the Lateran Pact of 1929 it became part of the Vatican's extra-territorial properties.

However last year Pope Francis broke with papal tradition by not spending his summer break at Castel Gandolfo, remaining instead at his base at the Vatican's S. Marta guesthouse.

The 1.5-hour guided tours of the Barberini garden are scheduled from Monday to Saturday at 08.30, 10.30 and 11.30. Tours are available through an online booking system at the Vatican Museums website.

The admission fee for an individual (admitted in groups of 25 with a guide) is €26 per person. The cost for organised groups of 15 is €450 and for groups of 25 it is €650.

For full details including prices see website.