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Seated on a rocky perch above the turquoise waters of Lake Albano, far from the hordes and heat of Rome, Castel Gandolfo has given a long line of popes reason to offer thanks.

The papal hilltop summer retreat, 10 minutes by helicopter from the Vatican, has been a source of inspiration to some pontiffs, such as youthful John Paul II who spent a total of six years of his 27-year papacy there and built a swimming pool in the grounds.

But the famously frugal Pope Francis has shunned the luxurious palace, passing through just four times during his 28-month tenure, with no overnight stays.

Stunning: Castel Gandolfo soars above the turquoise waters of Lake Albano, 12 miles south-east of Rome