The Pope arrived to Castel Gandolfo, located 18 miles from Rome, on Wednesday afternoon.
Upon his arrival, he addressed the faithful gathered there: "Dear Friends, my vacation begins this afternoon and I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of creation and history, and your kindness and friendship. My heartfelt thanks.
"I bless you all. Good afternoon and happy week. Thank you for your presence and friendship."
The Holy Father will stay in the Apostolic Palace, instead of going to the mountains of northern Italy, as he did in previous years.
He will be in that residence until the end of September, though he will leave briefly for two apostolic visits.
On Sept. 5, Benedict XVI will visit Carpineto Romano, Italy, for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Pope Leo XIII.
The Pontiff will also travel to the United Kingdom for a Sept. 16-19 visit.
Work and rest
The Pope plans to spend time with his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, who just arrived from Bavaria. He is also accompanied by his personal secretaries, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein of Germany, and Monsignor Alfred Xuereb of Malta.
Benedict XVI's stay in Castel Gandolfo will allow him to spend time reading and writing new works.
In his visit to Sulmona last Sunday, while having lunch with the bishops of the Abruzzi region, the Pope mentioned that he hopes to write a book on Jesus' infancy. He has already finished the second volume of "Jesus of Nazareth," which at present is being translated.
A grand piano has been placed in the residence so that the Pontiff can play pieces of the classic repertoire that he and his brother appreciate, beginning with Mozart.
Benedict XVI will be visited by friends, such as his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who will visit to keep the Holy Father updated on Church issues.
The Pope's next public engagement will be on Sunday, when he will pray the midday Angelus with pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the papal residence.
All private and special audiences will be suspended during the summer, in addition to the Wednesday general audiences on July 14, 21 and 28. General audiences will resume again Aug. 4.