Local media today reported on the surprise visit last evening of Pope emer
itus Benedict XVI to the famed Castelli Romani hills towns, including the papal palace at Castelgandolfo, one of his favorite spots to vacation. Castelgandolfo, in fact, has been a favorite spot for Popes over the centuries, especially in the summer as the Castelli hill towns often have cooler temperatures than Rome.
The citizens were thrilled to learn that the Pope emeritus would once again grace their small, enchanting town overlooking picturesque Lake Albano, site of an extinct volcano.
They loved it when Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI stayed weeks or months in the papal palace. Not only did they cherish the person of the Pope but also the fact that a Pope in residence drew visitors to the town, helping restaurants and other businesses to flourish.
All that changed with the election of Pope Francis who, as is well known, prefers working vacations in the Santa Marta residence to spending time at Castegandolfo.
The townspeople not only miss having “their Pope” in residence, they miss the visitors and tourists that a pontifical presence attracts.Yesterday was the first time in four years that Benedict had gone to Castelgandolfo.
He had been invited by Pope Francis to spend some time in the palace in the summer of 2015.Benedict arrived in a Mercedes Benz sedan with darkened windows, accompanied by his dear friend, personal secretary and prefect of the papal household, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein.
Castelgandolfo was the first of three stops yesterday afternoon. Benedict first spent 90 minutes in the papal palace, even briefly visiting the gardens he so loved to walk in and pray the rosary. (file photo – public domain)
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