CASTEL GANDOLFO: POPE’S GIFT TO THE WORLD Pope's summer residence now open to the public

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Starting from today we  can visit the Pope’s private residence in the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo. Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, has called it a royal palace. But we should not expect a magnificent structure but an emotional journey through the rooms in which Popes lived(and in some cases died). Paolucci said:”This is not an historical event but  a symbolic event. the Pope said:”this is my house, come in when you want”.”It ‘s a gesture that best represents the “policy”, the pastoral, the opening to the world of the Holy Father to whom simply does not interest a suburban villa, a beloved and graced masterpiece, because he has to receive and listen to all in his Rome office and so he renounces the royal palace and offers it to his faithful. ”

But what’s special about this complex? According Paolucci is the combination of the “beauty of monumental and natural beauty that’s out. Watching from the terrace and the windows at the miracle of nature, remained intact because here there is the pope, is an amazing, exciting experience”.

The event was also attended by Osvaldo Gianoli, director of the Pontifical Villas in which 55 people work, 32 in the agricultural sector ( the farm that daily supplies the Pope’s canteen and the Vatican shop) and the rest in the technical field.

What represents this opening? The Pope said: “it wanted to share this common good for all humanity, as the Basilica of St. Peter, it is true, it belongs to the Holy See, but in reality it belongs to everyone.” it’s nice that the Holy Father wanted to create this opportunity.

Visitors will appreciate it? What do they find of special or curious? Gianoli said:”everyone has its sensitivity, so there is the tourist who prefers the Italian gardens, some the farm, those who admire the view from the terraces … Every visitor has his own way of reading this great content. Regarding the approval, the numbers speak for themselves: in 2014, when we opened the gardens, came 10,000 people, in 2015 we became 26,000 and this year we are already 46,000 “.

When the Palace is open and how much the visit costs?

“The opening is from 9 to 13 from Monday to Friday and Saturdays until 16.30. The ticket for the Palace costs 10 euro, the visit by train 20 euro and the walking visit in the gardens with the guide costs 26 euro( it’s required a reservation). There are various ways and you can find  any information on www.museivaticani.va site. It is possible and advisable, on line reservation but we have also set up a ticket office at the entrance to the new museum”.

Is permanent the decision to stop using the summer residence ?
“It is up until  the Pope decides otherwise. Moreover the title of papal villa conferred in the eighteenth century was not revoked. ”

During the presentation there was also a short Chinese folk music concert, titled “Beauty connects us”.The Guangzhou Opera House music has accompanied the performances of Cui Zimo, a master of Chinese calligraphy, who made his own interpretation of “Anima Mundi”, the idea that inspired the rearrangement of the collections of the Ethnological Museum of Museums Vatican, where the works of peoples and cultures of the five continents are hosted.

The Cardinal Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City and member of the Council of Nine that assists the Pope in the reform, said about this special guests:”The presence of this choir is part of this exchange of cultural goods which are carrying out for several months, in particular to the Museums “.

An open door to China?
“Yes, they are seeds that are thrown, bridges that are launched. The title of the concert illustrates the concept. In our museums there is beauty, Chinese history through art”.

This is a prelude to a reconnection of diplomatic relations?
“I can’t say this  – said the prelate – I hope so. Relations with Chinese cultural institutions go on for some time”.

Eminence, it will miss the link between Castel Gandolfo people and the Pope?
“Well, it’s inevitable. However, with this opening many visitors will have the opportunity to visit this beautiful town. ”

Someone said during these days that it could be opened to the public the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican too: “Let the sparrows sing …”it is the Cardinal’s response that doesn’t allow replies.

Great euphoria atmosphere that however Castel Gandolfo Mayor shares only in part. Is this Palace public opening a compensation for the non presence of the Pope? Milvia Monachesi thinks for a moment before answering: “Yes … I am here today with two conflicting feelings: on one hand the sadness, because I’m afraid it’s the end of a story, of an essential process for us.On the other side, gratitude because this opening  will bring additional tourism. The Pope gave a gift to the entire world community”.

More than the works of art it contains, the Palazzo offers a lot on the emotional side, Because it is possible to cross the same corridors traveled by Popes, the reception rooms, the study with work table (in the corner there is still a small Bavarian flag), the library where  Benedict XVI and Francesco conversed for the first time and then the bedroom where they slept and where many pontiffs died Pius XII and Paul VI, where during the war have given birth so many women escaped from the bombs and reprisals thanks to Pope Pacelli, ending with the chapel where for the first time in history two Popes, one ruler and one emeritus, knelt together to pray. It will not be an historic event, as Paolucci said , but in those rooms the history can be felt at every step with all the emotions it can give.

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