Rome's hotel prices have greatly increased for the weekend of the beatification of Pope John Paul II on Sunday 1 May, with daily Roman newspaper Il Messaggero claiming that some hotels have raised their prices by 300 per cent. Most of the capital's accommodation is apparently full, particularly in the districts surrounding the Vatican where hotels and guesthouses were booked out within hours of the date for the beatification being announced.
Hotel associations have defended their position, saying that their prices are dictated by availability and demand. However they have criticised the Vatican for choosing the 1 May beatification date when the city is already crowded with tourists for the public holiday and the popular concert in S. Giovanni that evening.
On 1 February the Vatican committee responsible for supervising the event meets with the Italian authorities to put in place arrangements for pilgrims. A calendar of events is to be confirmed, with the possibility of a prayer vigil taking place at the Circus Maximus on the evening before the beatification and a thanksgiving mass likely to happen the day after.
The Vatican is expecting "not less than one million" pilgrims to arrive, and the combined capacity of St Peter's Square and Via della Conciliazione at 300,000 people. However at the time of the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II in April 2005 about four million pilgrims came to Rome and the city coped without a hitch.
For most Vatican events tickets have to be requested from the prefecture of the papal household. However this time the Vatican has stated that it is not issuing any tickets and that the event is free to all.