Catholic capitalism: Romans seeking to cash in on conclave influx

The St. Peter's Basilica clock marks the end of Benedict XVI pontificate at the Vatican, at 8pm, Feb. 28, 2013.

As of last week, the Vatican had issued press credentials for 3,641 journalists to cover the upcoming conclave, during which 115 cardinals will elect a new leader for the Roman Catholic Church.

The quest to find accommodation for that army of journalists, along with the thousands of Catholic pilgrims and other curious types who will pour into the Italian capital in coming days, has created something of a business opportunity for Romans.

Italian news agency ANSA reports that online ads for almost every conceivable type of living and workspace in Rome -- particularly those located close to the Vatican -- have been popping up with increasing frequency as locals look to capitalize on the influx. Everything from fully furnished luxury apartments, to simple spare bedrooms available to share, to well-placed balconies where a news photographer might perch and catch a few images, are being offered.

In one ad posted on the classifieds website, a furnished one-bedroom apartment is touted as being available for rent, "FOR THE WHOLE TIME OF THE CONCLAVE ... ONLY 600 METERS FROM S.PETER!!"

That easy walking distance to St. Peter's Square at the Vatican could fetch the owner a generous one-time side income, given that hotels in the vicinity are generally of a fairly high caliber, and with the prices driven up by demand, they're charging in the area of $700 per night for a room.

The ad on CraigsList simply says, "AFFORDABLE PRICE UPON REQUEST." The poster doesn't even bother giving prospective renters a photo of the actual apartment -- the only photo on the ad is of the Vatican itself.

ANSA reports that the price range for the properties listed spans from just less than $100 to share a room, all the way up to about $10,000 for an apartment available for the duration of the conclave.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.