Pope Gregory XIII started building this spectacular palace, now the official residence of Italy's president, in 1574. He planned to use it as a summer home. But less than 20 years later, Pope Clement VIII decided to make the palace—safely elevated above the malarial miasmas shrouding the low-lying location of the Vatican—the permanent residence of the papacy until 1870, undergoing various enlargements and alterations over time. When Italian troops under Garibaldi stormed Rome in 1870, making it the capital of the newly united Italy, the popes moved back to the Vatican, and the Palazzo del Quirinale became the official residence of the kings of Italy. After the Italian people voted out the monarchy in 1946, the palazzo passed to the presidency of the Italian Republic. The palace is now open to visitors, but you need to prebook a guided tour. Two itinereries are available: Itinerary No. 1 (free) lasts just over an hour, with visits to the grand public rooms of the palace's piano
nobile; Itinerary No. 2 (€10) visits the grand public rooms as well as the spectacular gardens and other areas like the carriage collection. English translations are provided. Outside the gates, you can see the changing of the military guard at 4 pm on Sunday (at 6 pm July to–August), and occasionally you can glimpse the presidential guard. They are a stirring sight in their crimson-and-blue uniforms, gleaming boots, and embossed steel helmets adorned with flowing manes.