July 7, 2010.
Each summer, Benedict XVI leaves Vatican City to intensely study and pray in the outskirts of Rome.
His destination this year is Castel Gandolfo, a town 25 miles southeast of Rome with a population of about 8,000 people.
The town has 136 acres. That's 27 acres more than Vatican City. The property includes the Papal Palace, two convents, one school, farms, gardens and the Vatican Observatory.
The first pope to use Castel Gandolfo as a summer residence was Urban VIII Barberini.
As a cardinal he already enjoyed spending the summer months at Castel Gandolfo and first went there as pope in the spring of 1626.
With the Lateran Treaty of 1929, Italy recognized the full ownership by the Holy See of the Pontifical Palace of Castel Gandolfo.
In 1934, the Observatory was moved from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo because of the urban growth. There was too much glare in Rome's sky, to such an extent that fainter stars could no longer be studied.
During the Second World War, the Vatican was a neutral country and Pope Pius XII opened the gates of Castel Gandolfo. About 12,000 Jews sought refuge there and remained in the pontifical town until the liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944.
During that time the papal apartment was reserved for mothers to give birth to their babies and at least 40 babies were born there.
In 1959, Pope John XXIII inaugurated two traditions at Castel Gandolfo: the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday mornings in the palace courtyard and Mass in the parish to mark the Feast of the Assumption.
Pope Benedict XVI spent his first summer there in 2005. This will be his fifth summer in one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. His brother, Georg, will also accompany him to Castel Gandolfo.