Rome city authorities said this week they are
expecting an "exceptional" turnout when Pope Benedict XVI delivers
his penultimate Angelus prayers on Sunday.
Italian media are speculating that crowds of 100,000 to 150,000 could turn up in St Peter's Square to hear the words of the pope, who said he will renounce his post on February 28 - the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years.
To cope with the influx, mayor Gianni Alemanno decided to scrap a ban on private car traffic that was meant to be enforced on Sunday, because he said that it would have been impossible to warn all the people that were coming to Rome about it.
Giuseppe Roscioli from the Roman association of hotel owners said bookings for the last week of February were up 10 per cent "because of journalists and cameramen" coming to cover the pope's resignation.
Before quitting, Benedict is to hold another Sunday Angelus prayer on February 24 and a general audience in St Peter's Square on February 27. They will be his last public outings.
On Friday, he met privately with: Romanian President Traian Basescu; representatives of Pro Petri Sede, a Belgian association that provides financial assistance to the Holy See; and Bishops from the Italian region of Liguria.
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