The Pontifical Residence of Castel Gandolfo
You’ll find the Pontifical Residence right on the main piazza of Castel Gandolfo. Go through the security line and walk up the stairs to enter the Papal Palace. Once you’re in, you’ll be given an audio guide– that’s when your journey of 500 years of history of the Popes begins. From the cars used by the various Popes, to artworks and stunning views, you’ll be taken back in time. Once you’ve been given all the insights, you’ll leave your audio guide and walk up the stairs to the Papal Apartment. This part of the tour is much more interesting, you’ll get to see the Pope’s chambers, from the bedroom to the library and the secretary’s desk. My absolute favorite room was the Gallery of Alexander VII, filled with frescoes by Pierleone Ghezzi.
Ticket price: €11
Duration: 60 minutes
The Pontifical Gardens
Back in 2014, Pope Francis opened the doors of the gardens of Castel Gandolfo to the public. Before that it wasn’t possible to visit the green heart of Castel Gandolfo, also known as the Barberini Gardens. If you love traditional Italian style gardens, you must visit these: hedge mazes, beautiful flowers, sculptures, fountains and ancient ruins mix to create the perfect peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Rome. Before the Popes, the Barberini Gardens were Emperor Domitian’s villa. Sounds like the Romans and the Popes know how to pick a great place! Keep in mind that the tour of the Barberini Gardens will take place in groups of 15 people and that there will be a staff member taking you around.
Ticket price: €12
Duration: 60 minutes
P.S. If you don’t have enough time to visit the Pontifical Residence as well as the Pontifical Gardens, definitely go for the gardens.
Lunch at Castel Gandolfo
The best way to visit Castel Gandolfo is in the morning, starting with the tour of the Barberini Gardens followed by the Pontifical Palace and a stroll through the beautiful town. Afterwards, head to one of the yummy restaurants in Castel Gandolfo for lunch. If you want to treat yourself to a special experience, reserve an outdoor table on the terrace of Ristorante Pagnanelli. Here, you’ll dine on a terrace offering a stunning view of Lake Albano. The service is impeccable, the food is delicious and the view tops it all. If you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ll be spending some time going through their terrific wine selection.