.- After completing a string of international visits and issuing his third encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI left this morning for a two-week vacation in the mountainous Valle d'Aosta region of Italy.
The Pope left Rome by plane at 10:30 this morning, bound for Turin in northern Italy. Following the hour-long flight, the Holy Father was taken by helicopter to a vacation home owned by the Salesians.
The chalet, located in Les Combes, is the same place where Pope Benedict vacationed in 2005 and 2006. The building is made of wood and stone, has two floors and is surrounded by a large garden. It stands at an altitude of 3,900 feet and has views of Mont Blanc and other mountains on the French-Italian frontier as well as the Italian-Swiss Alps. The late Pope John Paul II also frequented Les Combes.
During his 16-day respite, Benedict XVI will only hold two public ceremonies—one on Sunday, July 19 and the other on Sunday, July 26. On July 19 he will pray the Angelus at Piazza Ruggia in front of the parish church of Sts. Peter and Solutor at Romano Canavese in the Diocese of Ivrea. On July 26 he will pray the Angelus at Les Combes.
Benedict XVI will stay in Les Combes - located some 12 miles from the city of Aosta within the municipality of Introd - until July 29.
Following his vacation in Valle d'Aosta, the Pope will move to his summer residence of Castelgandolfo, located 18.5 miles south of Rome, where he will remain until the end of September.
The Holy Father will resume his international travels on September 26 with a three-day trip to the Czech Republic.