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Separating the Vatican from the secular world on the north and west are 23 hectares (58 acres) of lush gardens filled with winding paths, brilliantly colored flowers, groves of massive oaks, and ancient fountains and pools. In the midst of this pastoral setting is a small summerhouse, Villa Pia, built for Pope Pius IV in 1560 by Pirro Ligorio. The gardens contain medieval fortifications from the 9th century to the present. Water spouts profusely from a variety of fountains.

To make a reservation to visit the gardens, it is necessary to book online at www.vatican.va. Once the reservation is accepted, you must go to the Vatican information office (at Piazza San Pietro, on the left side looking at the facade of St. Peter's) and pick up the tickets 2 or 3 days before your visit. Tours of the gardens last for 2 hours, and the first half-hour is by bus. The cost of the tour is 18€. Visits are March to October on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 11am, November to February only on Saturday at 11am. For further information, contact the Vatican Tourism Office (tel. 06-69881662).