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  • Olympics Flame Begins Italian Journey


    The Olympic Flame in a safety lantern at the presidential palace. (ANSA) 
    (ATR) The Olympic Torch Relay is underway in Italy, the flame passed from the president of the Italian Republic to the first runner, Stefano Baldini, marathon gold medalist from the 2004 Olympics.

    After leaving a ceremony at the presidential palace in Piazza Quirinale, Baldini carried the flame to the first handoff point, Trevi Fountain. On this first day of the relay, the flame will pass through the Vatican, where Pope Benedict will bless the Olympic symbol, the first time that?s been known to happen.

    The opening day of the relay coincides with the Church?s Feast of the Immaculate Conception, also a national holiday.

    IOC President Jacques Rogge was among the dignitaries in Rome for the relay debut.

    The relay will stop for the night at the Campidoglio on Rome's Capitoline Hill. The flame will burn in a caldron at the Michel
    angelo-designed piazza, the same place where the relay for the 1960 Olympics began.

    The relay will travel through every part of Italy, along with stops in neighboring countries, all leading up to opening ceremony in Turin on Feb. 10. Coca-Cola and Samsung are the sponsors of the relay, which will cover about 11,000km.

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