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Castel Gandolfo is a city in the province of Rome. It is in the area southeast of Rome known as the Castelli Romani and is mainly known as the summer residence of the Pope. It overlooks the 10-km circumference of Lake Albano, an extinct volcanic crater, which is a popular destination for Romans on summer weekends and has many restaurants. Castel Gandolfo is part of the “Dan Brown” tour, having featured in “The Da Vinci Code”.

Castel Gandolfo: George W. and Laura Bush admire the view, with a very special tour guide

The two telescopes of the Vatican Observatory were moved from Rome to Castel Gandolfo in 1934 and were still used until the 1980s. However, the lights of Rome now render them pretty useless and the Vatican Observatory is these days hosted by the University of Arizona.

Get in[edit]

Map of Castel Gandolfo

By road follow the Appia Nuova, which begins at San Giovanni Basilica in Rome. A few kilometers past Ciampino Airport take a left up the hill to Castel Gandolfo.

There are infrequent trains from Rome’s Termini station.

  • 1 Castel Gandolfo railway station (Stazione di Castel Gandolfo). Castel Gandolfo railway halt (Q3969291) on Wikidata


Panorama of Lake Albano
  • 1 Palazzo Apostolico di Castel Gandolfo (Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo). The Pope's summer residence is a 17th-century building in the centre of the town. Popes Pius XII (1958) and Paul VI (1978) died at Castel Gandolfo. Part of the palace is built on the ruins of the summer home of the Roman Emperor Domitian. These extensive ruins are fascinating but, unfortunately, not open to the public without making special arrangements. Since 2016 the palace has been opened to the public as a museum. Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo (Q2739100) on Wikidata Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo on Wikipedia
  • 2 Lago Albano (Lake Albano). You can walk or run all the way round the lake. This is mainly road but there are 3 km (1.9 mi) or so that follow a rough track through a wood. Swimming is possible and there are a few small beaches of volcanic sand. Lake Albano (Q849448) on Wikidata Lake Albano on Wikipedia




  • Ristorante Pagnanelli, Via Antonio Gramsci n°4 (On the corner of the road that leads from the town down to the lake), +39 06 9360004, . Well-regarded restaurant with great views of the lake, good food and an excellent wine list. Jane, who with her husband runs the restaurant, is Australian, so look for delicacies such as “Patate al Australiano (Australian potatoes)”. The restaurant also has a wine bar in the basement, built into the volcanic rock and extending almost under the Pope’s Palace.




Go next[edit]

Go next[edit]

  • Castelli Romani Castel Gandolfo is situated on the northwesterly edge of this area of attractive towns and villages.
  • Frascati, about 10 km away, is famous for its wines and Renaissance villas.
Routes through Castel Gandolfo
Modern Center, RomeSouth Rome  NW Lazio regional railway line FL4 SE  → Albano Laziale → END

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