October 3, 2011
The papal farm at Castel Gandolfo, Italy, has 25 cows that produce roughly 700 litres of milk per day.

CNS PHOTO | L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO

The papal farm at Castel Gandolfo, Italy, has 25 cows that produce roughly 700 litres of milk per day.

On any given day, the papal table may feature extra-virgin olive oil, lightly pasteurized milk, fresh eggs, free-range chicken, honey, apricots and peaches — all straight from the farm at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo.

"The pope's farm, even if it is similar to many others, still gives rise to curiosity," said the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

Part of the curiosity comes from the fact that, for years, the only media allowed on the farm have been the writers and photographers who work for the Vatican newspaper.

The farm, which covers just under 50 acres, is home to an olive grove, fruit trees and greenhouses used to raise flowers and plants that often are used to decorate the papal apartments and meeting rooms, the newspaper said.

Each day, 25 cows produce more than 150 gallons of milk, and more than 200 eggs are collected from some 300 hens.

In addition, about 60 chickens are raised for meat.

What the pope and his aides do not use is sold to Vatican employees and retirees at their discount supermarket.

L'Osservatore said the farm took shape in the 1930s under the pontificate of Pope Pius XI, who saw it "as a model of a genuine lifestyle, the same he was able to enjoy as a youth."