Pope Benedict XVI will be vacationing in Valle d’Aosta in the mountainous northwestern region of Italy later this year.

The Pope will be returning to the village of Les Combes, near the town of Aosta, from July 13-27. The Holy Father spent his first two summers as pope at Les Combes, which is located close to Europe’s largest peak, Mont Blanc.

The residence Benedict stayed at used to be a favorite of Pope John Paul II.

Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta revealed the news April 6. He told reporters that he expressed “to His Holiness the joy and the gratitude of the Diocese of Aosta and the whole valley for this gesture of renewed friendship and closeness from you, and pastors and the faithful assure you of their closeness in prayer.”

For the past two years, Benedict has spent his summer holidays in the mountains of northeast Italy — at Lorenzago di Cadore and Bressanone — where the Pope’s native German is also widely spoken.

It’s not clear why the Holy Father has chosen to return to Les Combes again, but his visit to the Aosta valley is timely: 2009 marks the 900th anniversary since the death of one of Aosta’s most famous sons — the great theologian and doctor of the church, St. Anselm of Canterbury, who died April 21, 1109.