Town with population of 3,000 18 miles southeast of Rome on the west shore of Lake Albano; it is known for the villa used as an occasional papal residence since the 17th century. A large necropolis nearby indicates a population in prehistoric times. The ruins of a villa of the Emperor domitian can be seen in the garden of the present papal villa. A castle or villa Gandulfi, mentioned in 816, came into the possession of the Savelli family (1285), who, after losing it several times, ceded it to the Holy See for financial considerations (1596). The present villa, begun in 1629 by Urban VIII, who commissioned the work to Carlo Maderno, served many popes as a late spring or fall residence and as a place for the reception
of distinguished guests. Giovanni Lorenzo bernini built the cupola Church of St. Thomas of Villanova in a Greek cross (1661).
Although the Law of guarantees (1871) granted the popes use of the villa, they did not visit it again until 1934. Under Pius IX two communities of nuns, deprived of their convents, were lodged at the villa. Giovanni Bat tista de rossi died and Cardinal Rafael merry del val recuperated there. The lateran pacts of 1929 accorded the Holy See extraterritorial rights over Castel Gandolfo and the nearby villas of Bernini and Cybò, all three of which are part of Italy; the villas cover about 100 acres. During World War II, Castel Gandolfo sheltered 12,000 refugees, most of them from the fighting at Anzio. Pius XII died in Castel Gandolfo (1958).
Bibliography: r. mols, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart, et al. (Paris 1912–E;) 11:1417–18.