Festa dell'Immacolata is a public holiday in Italy.
Rome marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday 8 December - a Catholic holy day and a national public holiday in Italy - with a series of traditions and special events.
Pope Francis will pay homage to the Virgin Mary by making a pilgrimage to Piazza Mignanelli near the Spanish Steps at 16.00.
In a tradition dating back to 1958, the pope will leave a floral wreath at the base of the 19th-century Column of the Immaculate Conception in the piazza.
Firefighters also place flowers on the top of the 12 metre-high statue of the Madonna.
The pope’s visit to the historic centre will result in a number of street closures and traffic restrictions in the area around the Spanish Steps during the day.
Schools, public offices and many businesses in the capital will be closed on 8 December however clothes shops stay open as the day is seen as the official start of the Christmas shopping season.
A novelty this year will see Rome make its entire public transport network free for the day.
The fact that the festa falls on a Thursday in 2022 means that many people will turn the occasion into a "ponte" (bridge) or four-day weekend, with an estimated 12 million Italians set to go away for a short holiday.
Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri will switch on the lights on the Christmas tree and along the city's main thoroughfare Via del Corso, at 18.30.
As per tradition in recent years, a controversy has broken out about the Christmas tree, this time in relation to the "ugly" solar panels being used to power the lights with green energy.
The tree, a 23m-high fir installed in the middle of Piazza Venezia, will be decorated with 100,000 lights and 800 gold, silver and red baubles.
Cover image: Colonna dell'Immacolata Concezione, Piazza Miganelli, Rome.
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Rome marks Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December
Piazza Mignanelli, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
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