Castel Gandolfo

Christendom's Rome program is set up to include three "free weekends", which are three days with no activities planned, so that students can travel wherever they'd like around Europe.  This weekend, I didn't have plans to leave the country, but I knew I needed a mental health day.  It's been gloomy and wet in Rome, we've been busy, and a day off from the city was imperative.  I'd thought about other plans, but in the end made my decision based on an idea from Madelyn's gift jar.



So, I headed off to the little town of Castel Gandolfo, a 45-minute train journey from Termini, Rome's central transportation hub.


This town is the summer residence of the Popes since the 17th century.  It sits above Lake Albano, which was reflecting a beautiful blue sky today.  There's not much in the town itself, except the Apostolic Palace and the church of St. Thomas of Villanova, below.

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I also found this little chapel inset into the wall of the palace. . .



. . .and this tiny, ancient church, which unfortunately wasn't opened.  It looked very intriguing - one tomb under the altar, and inset shelf tombs on the wall with Greek inscriptions.  I think they may have been restoring the image over the altar, though, because I saw painting materials inside.

[caption id="attachment_1428" align="alignnone" width="645"]DSCN4277 Madonna Della Cona[/caption]

My goal for the day was to relax.  I got my wish!  The day was beautiful.  I'm glad I left early in the morning, because I was able to enjoy the early-morning light and stillness of the town.  The whole day was bright and quiet.  I wandered around the town for a bit and sat in a wooded park for a while; it was good to feel grass under my feet!  During the rest of the day, I alternated reading (thanks to my ever-handy Nook) with journalling and praying.  It was good to be alone and quiet, especially to hear the birdsong.  I saw cats, too!


I grabbed some pizza at lunchtime and spent the next three hours on a bench in the sun, overlooking the lake.  Delightfully, I saw my first snow-capped mountain in the distance!

[caption id="attachment_1430" align="alignnone" width="645"]DSCN4284 The view from my bench.[/caption]

It was good to experience nature again after the cobblestones and pigeons of Rome.  Thanks, Madelyn, for the great idea!  This was no grand adventure, but it was precisely what I needed: a quiet, relaxing day in a beautiful place!

[caption id="attachment_1431" align="alignnone" width="645"]DSCN4286 It did get a bit cloudy mid-afternoon. More pictures over at[/caption]