You'll be picked up from your hotel in Rome by your professional English-speaking driver, and you'll head to Castel Gandolfo, after 1-hour scenic drive.
You’ll visit the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo on your own with audioguides. Then you’ll enjoy the pretty historical center of Castel Gandolfo town and the scenic view of the Albano Lake with time for a stop for a typical lunch (at your own expenses).
Afterwards, you'll start your guided visit to the Catacombs. At the end of your tour, you’ll be taken back to your accommodation in Rome.
The Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo are increasingly accessible to visitors. Following the opening to the public of the Barberini Garden and the inauguration, within the Apostolic Palace, of the Museums of the Gallery of the Portraits of the Pontiffs, now the most private and reserved areas of the papal residence can also be admired and enjoyed by pilgrims and tourists. Many of the exclusive places in the Papal Apartment will be revealed to visitors: from the Bedchamber to the Private Chapel, from the Library to the Study, along a rich exhibition itinerary conceived, arranged and managed by the Vatican Museums.
The Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo comprise about 55 hectares (11 more than Vatican City) of which 30 make up a garden while 25 are used for farming. The latter is carried out with full regard for the aesthetics proper to countryside gardening. The entire papal residence enjoys all the privileges of extraterritoriality.
When one visits the pontifical estates or “Villa Pontificia” for the first time, he does not expect to come across the ruins of what is perhaps the most famous villa of ancient Rome, the “Albanum Domitiani”, the magnificent summer residence of the Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD), which once covered roughly 14 kilometres along the Appian Way towards Lake Albano.
You can choose which Catacombs you prefer to visit among the following:
- Catacombs of St. Domitilla: these are the oldest of Rome's underground burial networks, and the only ones to still contain bones. They are also the best preserved and one of the most extensive of all the Catacombs. Included in their passages are a 2nd-century fresco of the Last Supper and other valuable artifacts. There are around 4,000,000 bodies buried in St. Domitilla. They are the only catacombs that have a subterranean basilica.
- Catacombs of St. Sebastian: one of the smallest Christian cemeteries, the Catacombs of San Sebastiano have always been some of the most accessible catacombs and are thus some of the least preserved (of the four original floors, the first is almost completely gone). On the left end of the right-hand wall of the nave of the primitive basilica (rebuilt in 1933 on ancient remains), arches to end the middle of the nave of the actual 13th-century church are visible, along with the outside of the apse of the Chapel of the Relics; whole and fragmentary collected sarcophagi (mostly dating from the 4th century) were found during excavations.
- Catacombs of San Callixtus: the Crypt of the Popes, or the Catacombs of Callixtus, were built after AD 150. It takes its name from the deacon Saint Callixtus, proposed by Pope Zephyrinus in the administration of the same cemetery - on his accession as pope, he enlarged the complex, and soon it became the official one for the Roman Church. The arcades, where more than fifty martyrs and sixteen pontiffs were buried, form part of a complex graveyard that occupies 15 hectares and is around 12 miles (20 km) long.