Cafes and stalls cash in on papal pandemonium
VATICAN City vendors, restaurant owners and hoteliers are cashing in on the recent influx of tourists and they expect the numbers to swell from tomorrow onwards when the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI begins.
"At the end of every day I have to buy more stock; normally I would have to do that just twice a month. We haven't had this many people coming day after day for as long as I can remember. It is wonderful but exhausting," said 35-year-old souvenir stall owner Gabrielle.
Hotels and bed-and-breakfasts around the Vatican are all but booked out for the coming week.
Thousands are expected to descend on St Peter's Square, with eyes fixed on the chimney above the Sistine Chapel.
"I am worn out," said cafe owner Rita yesterday, before adding "everyday more and more people come".
A crowd of 50,000 pilgrims filled St Peter's Square to catch a final glimpse of Pope Benedict when he gave his last public address on February 27 and many more are expected to visit this week.