Sign up for the NEWS newsletter
You have been successfully added to our newsletter.
Let our news meet your inbox
See Inside Pope's Lavish Palazzo… Now Open to Public
The villa has opened to the public after the frugal Pope Francis decided not to use it, judging it too luxurious and grandiose.
Lake Albano is seen through the window in the grooms' room.
The lake-front town has experienced a decline in visitors since Francis decided to stay put in Rome. Last year, in part to help offset the economic downturn, the Vatican inaugurated weekly train service so visitors can see both the Vatican and the leafy hill-top refuge in one day.
The simple pontifical bedroom, see here, was used as a delivery room during World War II.
The Alban region saw bloody fighting and residents fled toward the pontifical villas seeking sanctuary. Pius XII opened the doors to more than 12,000 people until Rome was liberated on June 4, 1944.
As the Vatican tells it, some of the displaced were pregnant. And an estimated 40 women gave birth on the pope's bed itself; bearing offspring now affectionately called "the pope's children."
Pius resumed spending summers there after the war and died in the same bedroom in 1958. Pope Paul VI also died in the room in 1978.
The Apostolic Palace and the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo loom on the hillside in 2013.
At more than 130 acres, the residence, which includes several buildings, elaborate Renaissance-style gardens, a forest and a working dairy farm, is larger than Vatican City.