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Pope Opens Private Summer Apartments to Tourists

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Pope Francis greets the crowd as he leaves the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers) during a pastoral visit in Florence on November 10, 2015. Earlier today Pope Francis urged Italy's textile city of Prato, home to a large Chinese community with widespread illegal sweatshops, to fight exploitation, illegality and corruption. Thousands of people lined the streets of the Tuscan city to hear the Argentine pontiff, who arrived by helicopter for a lightning visit, addressing the crowds from the cathedral's famous balcony, designed by Renaissance sculptor Donatello.The town became a symbol for both uncontrolled immigration and unchecked labour exploitation in December 2013, when seven Chinese workers burned to death in a fire in an unregulated workshop where they slept after 16-hour shifts. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
(Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Who needs a summer palace? Not Pope Francis, as the Vatican announced that he has renounced the delights of Castel Gandolfo outside Rome and opened his private apartments to tourists.

The Argentine has refused the traditional trappings of the papacy from the start, declining to move into the sumptuous papal apartment in the Vatican and instead living in a hotel inside the tiny city state.

ITALY - MARCH 29: Aerial view of the Papal palace or Apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo, 17th-20th century, Castel Gandolfo, Lazio, Italy. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
Aerial view of the Papal palace or Apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo, 17th-20th century, Castel Gandolfo, Lazio, Italy. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)

 

His rooms at Castel Gandolfo, a former summer favorite with popes hoping to escape the heat of the capital, have been turned into a museum, which will be officially inaugurated on October 21.

Francis has visited the palace located some 15 miles from Rome only a few times since his election in 2013 and never spent the night there.

A tourists visit for the first time the Pontiffs gallery at the pope's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo on September 11, 2015. Pope Francis has recently decided to open a steam train link from the Vatican's train station to Castel Gandolfo for visitors as well as part of his summer residence. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION = (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
A tourists visit for the first time the Pontiffs gallery at the pope’s summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

 

A tourist visits the Pontiffs gallery at the pope's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo on September 11, 2015. Pope Francis has recently decided to open a steam train link from the Vatican's train station to Castel Gandolfo for visitors as well as part of his summer residence. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION = (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
(Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

 

His predecessors John Paul II (1978-2005) and Benedict (2005-2013) often stayed at the site, which has been owned by the Holy See since 1596 and has expanded over the centuries to now sprawl over 135 acres.

Francis opened the estate’s gardens to the public in 2014, with tours organized for groups and by reservation only. Since last year, tourists have also been able to climb aboard a special white train for an express trip to the lavish estate and a tour of the papal villa, including journeying past the pope’s organic farm, which houses cows, free-range hens, cockerels, and pontifical bees. To learn more about visiting the Vatican, click here.

Picture of the gardens of Pope's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, taken on March 22, 2014 in CastelGandolfo. From March 1st, the gardens surrounding the papal summer residence are open to the public. Located south of Rome in the Alban hills, the property includes the extensive Barberini gardens, the remains of a Roman villa and a 62 acre farm, as well as the ancient papal palace. A statement from the director of the Vatican Museums says it was Pope Francis himself who decided to make accessible to all the gardens of the Pontifical Villas. A guided tour of the gardens, in Italian or English, will be available to individuals or groups through an online booking system. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/VINCENZO PINTO" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS = (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Picture of the gardens of Pope’s summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

 

—Relax News