On the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday 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. However shops will be open as the feast day 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 A station from midday.
Via Due Macelli, between Largo del Tritone and Piazza di Spagna, will be closed and buses will be diverted. 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 terminals of a number of buses will be transferred from Piazza Augusto Imperatore to Lungotevere Marzio.
For full transport details see the agency for mobility’s website.
Also on 8 December, there are free guided tours Palazzo Senatorio on Capitol Hill from 10.00 to 20.00, in groups of 30 people at a time. The tour includes a visit to the mayor's private office with its balcony and uninterrupted view over the Roman Forum. For more details see city website.