Vatican City, 11 September 2015
The Train to the Pontifical Villas is ready to depart. Thanks to the collaboration between the Vatican Museums and Italian State Railways (Ferrovie dello Stato) Group, starting from tomorrow, on 12 September 2015, every Saturday, tourists, the curious and fans will all have the opportunity to climb aboard a special train departing from the Vatican City’s railway station or from the railway station at Saint Peter’s in Rome and arrive at the Castel Gandolfo and Albano Laziale railway station.
Ideally, this new railway link connects the two “Vaticans” and concretely combines two treasure chests of beauty and culture: the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo. A magnificent and secret place where the splendour of art and the glory of nature live in splendid harmony.
Here, for the first time, you can have access to the Apostolic Palace, which has always been reserved to the Pope and his closest associates, to visit the new museum of the portrait galleries of the former Pontiffs.
This new service, also designed in view of the special Jubilee of Mercy, was inaugurated today with a special historical train connected to a steam-driven locomotive from the fleet of the Italian State Railways Foundation, which hosted aboard as its guest Antonio Paolucci, the Director of the Vatican Museums, Osvaldo Gianoli, Director of the Pontifical Villas, and Michele Mario Elia, Chief Executive Officer of the Italian State Railways Group.
The Pontifical Villas, for centuries the inaccessible secret summer residence of the Popes of Rome – commented the Director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci – starting from 12 September they will be open to the public and can be reached by train, which is the most popular and the most equitable means of transport. It is a fact that holds in emblem with clear highlighting the policies of Pope Francis; a Pope who gave up his summer residence to open it up to the people. If this is not a sign of the times! ...
As an art historian and the Director of the Vatican Museums, I think about the excitement and wonder of visitors when they enter the Villa Barberini park and see the geometric splendour of the Italian gardens; the Domitian covered corridor and they will have the impression of being inside a print of the ruins of Piranesi, when, from the terrace of the Villa of Castel Gandolfo they will see the blue eye of the lake after having travelled throughout the gallery that combines portraits of the Roman Pontiffs. I think about the emotion and wonder, but also the gratitude that each of the visitors will have for this unexpected gift of the Pope.
In our 110-year history –said the CEO of the Italian State Railways Group, Michele Mario Elia – we have accompanied numerous Pontiffs around Italy, with really huge crowds waiting at the stations and along the railway lines. And for some years now we have accompanied hundreds of underprivileged children on the train to the Vatican, to enable them to meet the Holy Father. We are happy to put our know-how and experience at the disposal of this new initiative and we are confident that this new synergy could attract numerous tourists, Italians and foreigners alike, curious to know about this new and fascinating museum space.
To purchase the train ticket for the Pontifical Villas, the entrance fee to the Apostolic Palace museums and to consult the entire range of new tour offers, itineraries and mobility solutions, visit the Vatican Museum website.