Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo is an Italian town of 8 762 inhabitants  in the metropolitan city of Roma Capitale, in the Castelli Romani area. The town is part of the circuit of the most beautiful villages in Italy .

It is known above all for the presence of the summer residence of the popes, which is surrounded by many other summer residences, villas and cottages built starting from the seventeenth century. Its territory includes almost the entire coastal arc of Lake Albano with a view of the volcanic cone of Monte Cavo, which houses, among other things, the CONI Olympic rowing stadium.

Villa DomizianoThere are also various places of archaeological interest (including the emissary of Lake Albano and the remains of the Alban villa of Domitian), naturalistic (being the area included in the perimeter of the Castelli Romani regional park) and artistic (such as the pontifical collegiate church of San Tommaso da Villanova built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini).

Under the new government of the Apostolic Chamber, Pope Paul V seated, important public works were begun: in fact, the Laghetto di Turno (1611) was reclaimed, with the water pipeline in the castle coming from the heights of Malafitto and Palazzolo, and the convent was founded. of PP. Reformed Franciscans (1619).

Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644) in 1628 was the first Pope who stayed in Castel Gandolfo, in the villa that he had built by a cardinal: thanks to his interest, the Galleria di Sopra and the Galleria di Sotto were built, roads that connect Castel Gandolfo in Albano, so called because of the dense vegetation that flanked them.  The first Bull issued by a former Pope Arce Gandulphi was written by Pope Urban VIII on 25 October 1626.

At the time of Pope Alexander VII (1655-1667), new works were carried out, which saw, among other things, the installation of the road leading to Palazzolo along the cliffs of Lake Albano, called in ancient precisely via Alessandrina, the arrangement of the Papal Palace (1660) and the construction of the collegiate church of San Tommaso da Villanova (1658-1661) based on a project by the architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, author always on behalf of Pope Alexander VII and the Chigi family of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta in nearby Ariccia.

On 24 September 1728 the government of Castel Gandolfo was granted pro tempore by Pope Benedict XIII with the Bull Aequitatis to the Steward of the Sacred Palaces.

Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758) was very assiduous in his visits to Castel Gandolfo, erecting the bell tower on the main facade of the Papal Palace and admitting for the first time the local ladies to kiss the Pope’s foot during the holiday.  Furthermore, in 1740 he had the road leading to Marino widened, today Strada Statale 216 Maremmana III.

When the French soldiers entered Rome in February 1798, on February 18, 1798 Albano established the Albanian Republic, affiliated with the Roman Republic (1798-1799), together with Frascati, Velletri and Marino. In this situation, Castel Gandolfo was united with the municipality of Albano, but on 21 February the castellans rose up against the French along with other inhabitants of the Castelli Romani. The counter-revolutionaries were defeated manually by the French under Joachim Murat allied with the Marines and the Frascatani who remained loyal to France, in the battle of Frattocchie or Castel Gandolfo (February 24, 1798), after which the French sacked the palace. Pontifical.

With the return of Pope Pius VII, Castel Gandolfo was returned to the government of the Butler of the Sacred Palaces and this situation lasted until September 1870. Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) was particularly frequent in his stays in Castel Gandolfo, so much so that Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli ironized in his Sonnets that he went to Lake Albano to fish and tench for fasting.

On 23 November 1820 the municipal councilor Angelo Antonio Iacorossi had the idea of ​​having the first mailbox in the world placed in Piazza della Libertà, which can still be found in that spot today.

The Unification of Italy (1870-2000)

Castel Gandolfo 3

The lakeside of Castel Gandolfo.
On 20 September 1870, with the taking of Porta Pia and the entry of the Bersaglieri into Rome, the Papal State officially ended. Pope Pius IX, who had left Castel Gandolfo for the last time in May 1869 , and his successors until 1929 never set foot in the Papal Palace.

In the Law of Guarantees of May 18, 1871, rejected by Pope Pius IX as useless and futile proposals vulgarly called guarantees, the extra-territoriality of the Papal Palace with connections and dependencies will however be envisaged.

On 11 February 1929, with the signing of the Lateran Pacts, Benito Mussolini granted the nascent Vatican City State the possession of the Papal Palace with the adjacent villas, for a total of forty-four hectares. An area that belongs, however, to the Italian state, with the servitude of extraterritoriality.


In 1933 the Pontifical Astronomical Observatory was installed inside the Papal Palace, moved from the Vatican due to too much artificial light in Rome. In January 2008 it was announced that, following the worsening of visibility also in the Castelli Romani, the Observatory will be moved to the United States of America.

During the Second World War On January 22, 1944, the Anglo-Americans landed at Anzio bringing the Castelli Romani to the forefront of the clashes. On 1 February Ariccia and Albano Laziale were bombed, with the destruction of the local convent of the Poor Clares located on the edge of the papal estate and the death toll of 16 nuns; on February 2 Marino was hit with several hundred victims; finally, on 10 February, the Anglo-American bombings hit the College of Propaganda Fide in the Castellano territory, causing 500 civilian victims.

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