Among all the natural beauty of Italy, Castel Gandolfo has probably the most picturesque landscapes. Scenic mountains together with a huge natural park and blue-turquoise Lake Albano create a wonderful sight. The preserved architecture of ancient times completes its beauty. Above the lake, at 400 meters of altitude, Gandolfo Palace can be seen. It was named in honour of the Genoese Family of Gandolfi, who owned the palace in the 12th century. Today, it is better known as the Papal Palace, which was erected in the 17th century on the ruins of an old castle by the architect Carlo Moderno for Pope Urban VIII. Villa Barberini located not far from the palace is also very beautiful; the ruins of the residence of the emperor Domitian remind about the ancient times. Next to the palace you can see Piazza della Liberta, a small square with a fountain. The Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova with the classical for those times dome, designed by the architect Bernini in the 17th century, is worth a mention as well.
The Vatican Observatory, one of the oldest in Europe, is located in Castel Gandolfo. Since the 18th century, they have observed the celestial sphere. In the Observatory’s library, works of once persecuted by the church Galileo and Giordano Bruno are kept. Today, astronomical research of Vatican is conducted on the territory of the United States.
In Castel Gandolfo, you can see artfully constructed churches, many old villas, and its suburbs are known for their picturesque villages. The main attractions of the city are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The city is also interesting for those to be fond of sports. Since 1960, Lake Albano has been the place where trainings and competitions in rowing and canoeing are arranged.
In Castel Gandolfo there are many cafes, where you can sample dishes of the local cuisine. You should definitely try porchetta – pork cooked within the best culinary traditions of the region of Lazio. The local market, which is open on Friday mornings, is worth a visit as well.
From Termini, the Rome's main train station, you can get to Castel Gandolfo by train for 40 minutes. From Anagnina Metro Station in Rome, you can get to Castel Gandolfo by bus – a trip takes about 30 minutes.
If you go by car from Rome, you should take the highway A90 (GRA or Grande Raccordo Anulare), then take exit 23 (Via Appia, Albano). Passing Ciampino Airport, at the third traffic light turn left in the direction to Castel Gandolfo.