ROME – Tom Cruise made his first public appearance since arriving in Rome to get married, speeding away in a van from a luxury hotel Tuesday.
Cruise sat in the back of one of two dark vans with tinted windows that left the Hassler hotel, surrounded by dozens of fans holding photos and cameras in hopes of getting a glimpse of the American actor before his weekend marriage to Katie Holmes.
Cruise landed in Rome on Monday on a private jet from Los Angeles together with some 10 people, including his mother and his three children. He is said to be staying at the Hassler, located at the top of the Spanish Steps.
Airport officials said Holmes was also in Rome, but it wasn't immediately clear whether the actress was staying in the same hotel.
Holmes, 27, and Cruise, 44, became engaged in June 2005. Their daughter, Suri, was born April 18.
The couple are set to marry at an undisclosed Italian location on Saturday. Speculation on the location has focused on Odescalchi Castle on Lake Bracciano, near the capital.
Earlier, as bodyguards stood at the ready and barriers were being set up in front of the hotel, the fans mingled with photographers and TV crews, waiting with their cameras.
Sophie Bassett-Symonds, a 34-year-old British tourist and Cruise fan, said she decided to stop by the hotel after hearing of the wedding.
"He's exceptionally talented and as a man, he'll always be a heartthrob," she said, holding a camera ready to take a snap of the actor. "The waiting is very addictive and I enjoy the suspense and excitement. I don't mind standing here for as long as it takes," she said.
Cruise and Holmes were first photographed together in Rome in April 2005. Two months later, the "Mission: Impossible" star announced he had proposed to Holmes atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
He has two children, 13-year-old Isabella and 11-year-old Connor, from his former marriage to Nicole Kidman.