The Olympic flame has arrived in Italy, a little more than two months before the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Games in Turin.
An Italian military transport plane brought the flame to Rome Wednesday, accompanied by Turin organizing committee chief Valentino Castellani. The flame was kept in a lantern for the journey and is to be taken to the presidential palace.
On Thursday, Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi will light the Olympic torch from the lantern. He will pass the flame to the first torchbearer in Italy, Stefano Baldini, the marathon gold medalist at last year's Summer Olympics in Athens.
The relay will start its 11,300 kilometer journey by passing the Trevi Fountain and other Rome landmarks such as the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, before arriving at the Vatican for a blessing by Pope Benedict XVI.
Some 10,000 torchbearers will take part in the relay, which will visit every province in Italy and travel to France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia. The torch will end its journey on February 10 in Turin when it lights the cauldron at the opening ceremony, signaling the start of the Winter Games.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.