The 'people's Pontiff' has decreed that the gardens of the spectacular Papal summer residence outside Rome should be thrown open to the public.
- By Nick Squires, The Telegraph
The sprawling gardens surround Castel Gandolfo, a ridge-top castle about 32 kilometres from the Italian capital, in the Alban Hills.
Until now they were rarely used, even by popes. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI used to spend his summer holidays in the castle, but his successor has indicated that he would rather remain in Rome, working on his campaign to reform the Holy See.
The estate includes ornamental gardens, terraces with views of the sea, the remains of an imperial Roman villa built by the Emperor Domitian and a small farm, complete with a herd of cows that supply milk and butter to the papal dining table.
The farm also produces eggs, olives and honey, some of which is sold in a supermarket in the Vatican City State. Pope Francis, who has called on bishops and priests to reach out more to ordinary Catholics and to engage with the 'periphery' of society, ordered that they should be made accessible to the general public.
As of this week, the gardens will be open every morning from Monday to Saturday, with tickets costing 26 euros ($40) a person. Guided visits in Italian, English and other languages can be booked through the website of the Vatican Museums.
FULL ARTICLE: Pope Francis opens up the gardens of papal summer residence to public (The Telegraph)
Castel Gandolfo papal gardens are opened to the public (Vatican Radio)