Alban Hills and Summer Residence of the Pope

Places visited (entrance tickets to Apostolic Palace to be bought on site): 

  • Castelgandolfo and Lake Albano
  • Apostolic Palace (Summer Residence of the Pope in Castelgandolfo)
  • Lake Nemi and Nemi medieval village

Add-ons

  • Historical gardens of the Pope in Castelgandolfo

Duration: 7 hours including round-trip and time for lunch; approx. 8 hours with add-ons

Difficulty: 1/3

Accessibility: easily accessible for wheelchair users

Focus: Nature, Food&Wine, Art

Categories: ,

Description

Discover the beautiful Roman countryside on this day tour to the Alban Hills, located about 12 miles south of Rome! Our first stop will be at Lake Albano, a lovely volcanic crater lake at the foot of Monte Cavo, the deepest in Lazio with a depth of about 560 ft. In 395 B.C. the Romans build a still existing underground tunnel as an emissary to channel the water and use it for irrigation.

Overlooking the turquoise water of the lake, the small village of Castelgandolfo is the site of the Papal Palace, the Pope’s summer residence since 1605.

Pope Francis took an unprecented decision when he recently announced that the Papal Palace, traditionally the summer retreat of his predecessors, would finally open its gates to visitors. 

We will visit the Palace John Paul II spent so much time in, that he lovingly referred to it as “Vatican 2”. The first floor houses an interesting portrait gallery of the popes, but the real jewel is the second floor, where the doors of the pope’s private apartment will open for us to see the very rooms that have seen not only popes, but also distinguished visitors, including some US President.

Leaving Castelgandolfo, we’ll drive along the scenic road running around the lake on the top ridge of the ancient volcano: wonderful views, lakes, chestnut woods, vineyards, picturesque little villages… Generations of artists have celebrated the beauty of the Alban Hills. 

The area comprises 13 small villages, known as Castelli Romani, the Roman Castles, since most of them have a medieval castle or fortress to grace their centre. 

My own favorite one is Nemi, overlooking the other lake of the area, the much smaller Lago di Nemi, better known as “Diana’s mirror” since in ancient Roman days it housed a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Diana. In Nemi we will explore the quaint little cobble-stoned streets and sample the delicious “fragoline”, wild strawberries, which are the pride of the region.

The area of the Alban Hills is particularly popular because of the wine and the excellent food served in the many wineries and country estates that dot the hilly landscape; it is a real gastronomic paradise, with all kinds of local dishes (Porchetta – that is roast sucking-pig, and Fettucine ai funghi porcini – pasta with mushrooms are favorites) and the renowned Frascati wine, a dry white wine which is served chilled. No day-trip to the Alban Hills can be complete without a stop at one of the many “fraschette” (rustic wineries serving cold cuts and simple but delicious dishes) or at one of the restaurants offering stunning views of the lakes.

Add-ons

To have a complete overview of the papal summer residence, why not add a tour of the beautiful historical gardens that surround the Papal Palace? Besides offering breathtaking views, they also house some Roman ruins dating back to the time when the emperor Domitian owned a villa on the shores of the lake. It is possible to visit them riding an open minibus, with audioguides provided in several languages, or on foot, following a group tour. Ask me about this option!

Useful info

This tour is very relaxing and a real treat after some days spent sightseeing in Rome. It’s also suited well for mobility-challenged visitors.

Mappa Google con itinerario e luoghi visitati

Cost guideline – What’s included

Duration of tour 1-3 people (limo) 4-6 people (van)
Up to 6 hours 570,00 EUR 660,00 EUR
+ each additional hour 95,00 EUR 110,00 EUR
  • For larger groups, I’ll be happy to send you a quote. 
  • The tour rate includes your private guided tour + private driver – price is total, not per person. Pick up will be at your accomodation, provided it is in the city centre. 
  • Entrance tickets, meals, snacks and gratuities not included in above rates. 
  • Entrance tickets to the Apostolic Palace are not included and have to be purchased on site (cash or credit card); for each person, consider about 11,00 EUR total (children under 18 and students get a reduced ticket). Updated entry fees will be listed in the detailed trip summary you’ll get upon sending a request/booking.
  • Please note that we reserve the right to vary the prices shown on this website at any time before you book (during Bank Holidays, National Holidays, Christmas Holidays, Easter Holidays, or last minute bookings). From April 1st to October 30th, last minute bookings (less than 3 days prior to the tour) are subject to a 15% surcharge.

You will be advised of the current price at the time of booking. Once you have booked we will not increase your tour price other than for changes in VAT or any other Venues or Government imposed levy. 

  • Cancellation Policy & Refunds

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