Pope's refuge: A sumptuous lakeside villa

2013-02-27 12:23
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Vatican readies for Pope's last audience

Pope Benedict XVI will hold the last audience of his pontificate in St Peter's Square on the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

Castel Gandolfo - Once he steps down on Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI will begin his retirement in the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, a sumptuous villa outside Rome with ornamental gardens, breathtaking views and its own farm.

Benedict will spend around two months in the palace, which is perched high on a rocky outcrop above Italy's Lake Albano, before withdrawing to a monastery within the grounds of the Vatican.

The villa and gardens now sprawl over 55ha, making the site about 11ha bigger than the Vatican, the world's smallest state.

One wing of the palace looks out onto the main square of Castel Gandolfo, a mediaeval town listed among Italy's most beautiful, and it is from one of those windows that Benedict will wave goodbye just before resigning on Thursday and retreating to a life of prayer and academic research out of the public eye.

Inside the grounds, there are views down to the lake or glimpses of the sea beyond gardens decorated with sculptures, with orchards of apricot and peach trees and greenhouses of ornamental flowers.

The residence has long been a favourite with popes hoping to escape the infernal heat of a Roman summer and, at 426m above sea level, the palace is a cool oasis.

Lightning bolt out of the blue


"The pope, who usually visits at Easter, has brought his stay forward by a month," said Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas.

"The situation is routine in terms of logistics, but exceptional considering the circumstances," he said.

Benedict's resignation "took us by surprise, it was like a lightning bolt out of the blue", said the white-haired Petrillo, who said he understood the pope's decision to give up the papacy.

"Here the pope will find a family atmosphere. There are no great works of art, no huge rooms," he said as he showed off reception rooms decorated with simple wooden crosses, bibles on tables and photographs of Benedict smiling as he walks through the palace grounds.

Cypresses and sculptured hedges line secluded paths in the gardens, but Benedict does not often stroll among the blooming flowerbeds or fountains, Petrillo said.

"He is a reserved man of study who is not a huge fan of the great outdoors."

'I find everything'

Benedict will be accompanied by two private secretaries and four lay women and is expected to spend most of his time in his private apartment, which has a view of the sea.

The pontiff said in 2011 that at Castel Gandolfo, "I find everything: A mountain, a lake, I even see the sea," a phrase immortalised in a plaque on the town hall opposite the palace.

It was pope Urban VIII who first decided in 1626 to establish the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, which is 30km from Rome and also houses the large telescope of the Vatican's Observatory.

Centuries later, after several other villas had been incorporated into the land, pope Pius XI opened a farm, which includes cows, hens, cockerels and pontifical bees.

- SAPA

Read more on:    roman catholic church  |  pope benedict xvi  |  pope francis  |  vatican city  |  italy  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

An uncomfortable election

The latter few weeks of election 2014, have seen South Africans reeling from an assault on their comfort zone when it comes to voting, writes Daniel Silke

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow things...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.