On the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday 8 December, Pope Benedict XVI pays homage to the Virgin Mary by making a pilgrimage to Piazza Mignanelli beside the Spanish Steps at 16.00. In an annual tradition dating back to 1958, after kneeling in prayer the pope leaves a floral wreath which is placed on the statue of the Madonna in the square.
As well as being a Catholic holy day it is a national Italian holiday, with all public offices and schools closed; shops however remain open as it is generally seen as the official start of the Christmas shopping season.
The pope’s visit to the historic centre will result in a number of street closures and bus detours in the area around the Spanish Steps, as well as the closure of the Spagna metro station from 12.00.
The limited traffic zone (ZTL) will be in operation in the historic centre from 14.00-18.00 (a measure that will be replicated on 11 and 18 December).
Via Due Macelli, between Largo del Tritone and Piazza di Spagna, will be closed and the 116, 119 and 590 buses will be diverted all day until 20.30. Traffic will be prohibited on Via Tomacelli, Piazza Augusto Imperatore and the stretch of Via del Corso from Piazza del Popolo to Largo Goldoni from 13.30-17.30.
During this time the following bus lines will also be diverted: C3, 81, 590, 628, 926, while the terminals of the 224 and 913 will be transferred from Piazza Augusto Imperatore to Piazza Cavour.
The city’s Christmas transport plan comes into effect on 8 December and lasts until Christmas Eve. It involves increased bus services including the Shopping bus line, and special parking rates.
The day also coincides with the introduction of police on certain bus routes in the city.
There are a number of major shows opening in Rome this week, such as the exhibition of Steve Curry photographs at Macro Testaccio, and “I Borghese e l’Antico” at the Borghese gallery.
For a comprehensive list of cultural events in the capital see Wanted in Rome’s What’s On section. For full transport details see the agency for mobility’s website www.agenziamobilita.roma.it.