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 10km circumference 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”.
The two telescopes of the Vatican Observatory were moved from Rome to Castel Gandolfo in 1934 and 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.
There are infrequent trains from Rome’s Termini station.
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.
- 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.
- Lake Albano. You can walk or run all the way round the lake. This is mainly road but there are 3km or so that follow a rough track through a wood. Swimming is possible and there are few small beaches of volcanic sand.
- L´Antico Ristorante Pagnanelli 1882, Via Antonio Gramsci n°4, on the corner of the road that leads from the town down to the lake. Well-regarded restaurant with great views, 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!)
- L´Antico Ristorante Pagnanelli 1882 has a wine bar underneath the restaurant, built into the volcanic rock and extending almost under the Pope’s Palace.
*Castelli Romani. Castel Gandolfo is situated on the northwesterly edge of this area of attractive towns and villages.
*Frascati, about 10km away, is famous for its wines and Renaissance villas.