FFE Magazine

Castelli: Benedict's Retirement Home

The town where Pope Benedict  XVI is spending his last hours as pope and his first hours as the first pontiff in 600 years to retire is one of several picturesque “castle towns” known as the “Castelli,” less than an hour's drive from Rome. Nestled in the Alban Hills, southeast of Rome, it is an area that is volcanic in origin. One of the volcano's old craters became Lake Albano, whose shores include Castel Gandolfo.

The volcano’s no longer active, but the Castelli area gets its share of earthquakes, generally fairly mild and doing no damage. The rich volcanic soil helps produce inexpensive white wines that are a favorite in local trattorie as well as in restaurants in Rome.

The town is older than Christianity. The papal residence grounds include ruins from an imperial Roman villa, which itself had been on the site of ancient temples built several centuries before the ancient Romans came to check out the cool breezes and views.

The sprawling papal grounds, which as Vatican property enjoy extraterritoriality, include a working farm. Coffee bars in town have been known to serve milk from the farm's cows. (Yes, it's already been said: "Holy Cow.") (From The Associated Press)

AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte

The Gardens of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

Garden of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, Italy. Pope Benedict the XVI will stay at the Vatican's summer residence from Feb. 28 until the convent of Mater Ecclesiae (Mother of the Church) at the Vatican will be ready to host him.

AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte

The Gardens of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte

The Gardens of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

A Photo taken on February 20, 2013 shows the main door of Castel Gandolfo's Apostolic Palace in the village of Castel Gandolfo.

 


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