Pope departs Rome for alpine holiday

.- This morning, the Holy Father departed Rome for the start of his 17-day vacation in the Italian alps, where he will share the same house as was frequented by the late John Paul II.

After an hour-long flight which left Rome at 10:30, Pope Benedict arrived at the airport of Saint Christophe in the Valle d'Aosta region in northwestern Italy.

He was then driven a short distance to the residence of Les Combes where he will rest for the next 17 days before continuing a heavy summer schedule which includes World Youth Day in Cologne.

During his Angelus prayer yesterday at St. Peter’s Square, the Pope announced his Valle d'Aosta holiday to 40,000 gathered pilgrims, saying: "I will stay in the same house that often welcomed Pope John Paul II. I thank those who accompany me with their prayers and to all of you I say with affection, 'see you soon!'"

Following his stay in Valle d'Aosta, the Vatican noted, the Pope will move to his summer residence of Castelgandolfo, 30 kilometers south of Rome, where he will stay until the end of September.

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