A picturesque medieval castle north of Rome is widely believed to be the secret location selected by Hollywood star Tom Cruise to wed his fiancÃ©e Katie Holmes later this month.
The 12th-century Castello Odescalchi, which overlooks Lake Bracciano, is a popular choice for VIP parties. It can host about 1,300 guests at a time and has its own private chapel.
The managers of the castle venue, which is owned by Princess Maria Pace Odescalchi, denied a press report that the long-awaited wedding was to take place there.
But the mayor of Bracciano, Patrizia Riccioni, revealed later that Princess Odescalchi has asked for the piazza in front of her castle to be closed to traffic on November 18, the day when Cruise and Holmes are to marry.
"This coincidence seems to be a pretty strong clue," she said. "Everything points to the Cruise-Holmes wedding taking place in Bracciano, where there will be a succession of international stars".
There was no immediate word from the golden couple itself.
Just where Cruise will wed his actress fiancÃ©e on November 18 has been showbiz's best-kept secret ever since the pair announced last month that they would be tying the knot somewhere in Italy.
Two plush Italian lakeside villas, George Clooney's on Lake Como and a former Mussolini residence on Lake Garda, have both appeared in gossip mags.
But on Tuesday Rome's Il Messaggero reported that the ceremony would be held at the Odescalchi castle, an atmospheric site which has hosted kings and a pope in its long history.
In recent years Italian pop star Eros Ramazzotti and top CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour chose it for their weddings.
Il Messaggero said there would be a star-studded party at the castle on November 16, a Catholic wedding ceremony the next day and a final ritual on November 18 presided over by an official of Scientology, the religious sect to which Cruise belongs.
Fabrizio D'Agostino, Rome representative for the Church of Scientology, said he had not been contacted by Cruise and Holmes. But he added that this might not be significant. "They don't have to contact me. They could choose whichever minister they want," he said.
It was unclear how Cruise could be married in a Catholic ceremony when he has already been married twice.
ARMANI STYLE AT WEDDING.
Italian weekly Chi confirmed Il Messaggero's version in a report of its own. It said the organisation of the three-day event was being handled by stylist Giorgio Armani, at a cost of 1.5 million euros.
Armani is known to be providing Holmes' wedding gown and Cruise's suit.
Chi's report claimed that the couple were spending 5,000 euros on embroidered bedroom towels to be given to their guests in the castle. The towels will bear the bride and groom's initials and be coloured according to sex: men's towels matching Cruise's wedding suit and women's matching his bride's dress.
The event is certain to have a strong Italian flavour. As well as saying their vows on Italian soil and wearing Armani creations, the couple will reportedly be drinking Italian wine and giving each other rings made by an Italian jeweller.
Roman gossip gurus think the actor will be turning to his favourite Italian restaurant, Dal Bolognese in Rome's Piazza del Popolo, to handle catering at the snazziest celebrity wedding in years.
Cruise, 44, and Holmes, 27, have been together for about 18 months. In April this year Holmes gave birth to a baby girl, who they called Suri.
It was in Rome that the actor, during a flying visit for the presentation of his film Mission Impossible III, told the world about his new enthusiasm for changing diapers.