Duration: 6.5 hours
Type of Service: Pope's Summer Residence outside of Rome - Castel Gandolfo Tour with Lunch
The Full Castel Gandolfo Experience - Embark on a journey of discovery to this amazing Vatican getaway just 15 miles south of Rome in the verdant Alban Hills, where you will be treated to a guided visit of the Papal summer residence, including the Apostolic Palace, coveted Private Papal Apartments, and the Barberini Gardens, as well as a once in a lifetime chance to have a buffet lunch on local products from the Pope’s private farm. You’ll even have the chance to buy them yourself, a rare privilege usually reserved for Vatican citizens, foreign dignitaries, or the Pope himself.
Meet your group’s personal Vatican expert in Rome before embarking on the 1-hour bus ride to Castel Gandolfo by private coach. As the city transforms into lush forested hills, you’ll begin to feel the enchantment of this area. Not only is it sealed off from the noise and chaos of Rome, it is also a place where nature amazingly still reigns supreme, a fact that has drawn the Popes here for centuries. Once arrived, you will stand in awe of the natural context that the Papal summer residence stands in, an immense volcanic lake whose crater walls are crowned by the Papal Palace itself.
After a quick coffee and souvenir break in the town, you’ll be handed over to an official Vatican guide for a spectacular 45-minute visit to the Apostolic Palace for an insider’s look at the rare treasures it contains, with the Papal Apartments including his private bedroom, study, and chapel. This 17th-century abode has served as a summer residence to the Popes since Urban VIII chose it for its stunning position and panorama in 1626. Explore this remarkable complex, often referred to as the ‘Second Vatican’, culminating in the breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape from the Papal Terrace, a privilege that may even pale in comparison to the view.
Continue for an hour-long stroll covering the best of the Barberini Gardens, some of the most beautiful in Italy, built over the ruins of Emperor Domitian’s Villa. This Renaissance masterpiece is nothing less than a feast for the senses. Admire the evocative natural and archaeological features of this earthly paradise, including the Magnolia Garden, Path of Roses, with the impressive ruins of the imperial theatre, the ancient ‘crypto-portico’ covered passageway, and more until you reach the Belvedere Gardens with views that sweep to the sea.
Now for the rarest privilege as you’re off to sample products from the Pope’s private farm for a spectacular buffet lunch. Listen to your guide as they describe the rigorously organic products and techniques used for all the food that reaches the Papal table. You’ll then be ready to sit down and enjoy a meal fit for the Pope himself composed of meats, cheeses, bruschetta with oil and tomatoes, salads, fresh produce and more, all produced from the surrounding land and of uncompromising quality. You’ll even have the chance to buy these totally unique products for yourselves.
Sites Visited on this tour: Pope's Summer Residence in Castel Gandolfo, Apostolic Palace, Private Apartments, Papal Terrace, Barberini Gardens, Town of Castel Gandolfo
Things to know:
- Delight in the rare privilege of discovering the Pope’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, recently opened by Pope Francis for a select number of tours. Until a short time ago such a visit would have been impossible, now you'll have the privilege to experience this magical realm, filled with secrets and history.
- Tour of Apostolic Palace and Barberini Gardens with official Vatican guide
- Have the privilege to stroll the lush Barberini Gardens, the exclusive private gardens of the Popes
- Tour of Private Apartments with intimate and holy spaces
- Free time to explore the town of Castel Gandolfo for a coffee break, shopping for souvenirs or just exploring its narrow alleys and sweeping views with tips and recommendations from your guide.
- Exclusive buffet lunch with organic products from the Pope's private garden
- Roundtrip transportation to and from Rome by private coach
- Expert local guide with commentary and insider tips throughout the tour
- The Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo comprise about 55 hectares (11 more than Vatican City) of which 30 make up a garden while 25 are used for farming
- Groups no larger than 25 people
- Tour operates May - September and is closed during fall and winter months
- Tour offered only on Tuesday and Friday
- Check-in time is 8:15 am
- Tour departure time is 8:30 am
- Wear comfortable walking shoes
- Meeting point: more details are given upon booking
- After an incredible morning and early afternoon discovering the magic and wonder of Castel Gandolfo, you’ll be back on your private coach for Rome
- We regret that we are unable to accommodate guests with wheelchairs or any impairments requiring special assistance. We are also unable to accommodate strollers or baby carriages on our group tours
- Entrance into the Apostolic Palace requires a strict dress code. Knees and shoulders MUST be covered for both men and women