Lonely Planet Writer

The Pope’s chefs will make you lunch in the papal summer residence on this tour

If the idea of enjoying a lunch made with organic products from the Pope’s private farm appeals to you, you can now take a tour that includes this unusual treat. It comes as part of a guided tour of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. It’s situated in Lazio just 15 miles south of Rome in the Alban Hills, and includes the Papal Terrace and Barberini Gardens.

The Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence. Image: Daniel Reiter / Stock4B

This 17th Century palace has served as a summer residence to the popes since Urban VIII chose it for its stunning location in 1626. However, Pope Francis turned down tradition and chose not to use this lavish estate when he was elected, and opened it to the public late last year. Visitors on the tour get to sample products from the Pope’s private farm during a spectacular buffet lunch, which is prepared by the same chefs who serve Pope Francis daily in Vatican City.

Pope Francis celebrates the Assumption Day mass in Castel Gandolfo’s central square in 2013. Image: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

You’ll be accompanied on the tour by an official Vatican guide, who will describe the rigorously-organic products and techniques used for all the food that reaches the Papal table. This will be followed by the serving of a buffet meal fit for a pope, comprised of cheeses, meats, bruschetta with oil and tomatoes, salads, fresh produce and more, all produced from the surrounding land. You’ll even have the chance to buy these totally unique products, which is a rare privilege usually reserved for Vatican citizens, foreign dignitaries or the Pope himself.

People visit the gardens of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo. Image: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

During the tour, you can also visit the private apartments used by popes through the ages, including intimate and holy spaces like the papal bedroom, study and chapel. You can take in the views of Lake Albano from the Papal Terrace and there is also free time to visit the scenic town of Castel Gandolfo itself, perched over Lake Albano.

Elevated townscape and facade of Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope’s summer residence is located. Image: Peter Eberts/Bildarchiv-Monheim/ArcaidImages

City Wonders is one of only three tour operators with a Vatican partnership, and you can find further information on this particular tour here.