ROME – Desperately seeking Madonna.
Hundreds of Italians have gathered in front of her hotel and rushed to Rome's most chic street in hopes of getting a glimpse of the American pop star, who is to perform in a concert Sunday night at the Olympic stadium.
Fans started pouring in to the stadium since early afternoon, while some had camped out to get a spot right in front of the stage. Some 70,000 people were expected at the concert, which is the only Italian date of her "Confessions" tour.
A few hundred people also have gathered in front of Madonna's hotel in downtown Rome since Saturday. A rumor that she was shopping on Via Condotti, Rome's fashion street, sent hundreds of fans there, newspaper Il Messaggero and other dailies reported Sunday.
The concert has drawn criticism in Roman Catholic Italy, especially for Madonna's plans to appear crucified on a mirrored cross while wearing a crown of thorns.
Religious leaders have condemned the mock crucifixion as an act of hostility toward the Roman Catholic Church and as a publicity stunt in bad taste.
But Madonna's New York-based spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, said in an e-mail that "the context of Madonna's performance on the crucifix is not negative nor disrespectful toward the church."