December 8, 2005

Torch starts two-month journey across Italy

ROME (Reuters) - The Olympic flame for the 2006 Winter
Games set off on a two-month long journey across Italy on
Thursday with torchbearers carrying it past Rome's most famous
monuments to the Vatican for the Pope's blessing.

Italy's President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi lit up the torch and
handed it to Olympic marathon champion Stefano Baldini, the
first of 10,000 torchbearers who will take it on an 11,000-km

(6,835-mile) trek to 140 cities.

The Games, which start in Turin on February 10, are the
first Italy has hosted since 1960.

On their way to the Vatican, torchbearers snaked past famed
Rome's landmarks, from the Trevi Fountain to the Spanish Steps
and the Pantheon.

The flame leaves the capital on Friday. Highlights of the
cross-country journey include a ride in a Ferrari in the racing
car's hometown of Maranello and a cruise on a gondola in