President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina are in Rome for the start of an official visit to Italy.

The President was greeted by Irish Ambassador Patrick Hennessy and his wife at Fiumicino Airport this morning.

It is one of two engagements he will make to EU member states during Ireland's EU presidency.

He will also make an official visit to France later this month.

Mr Higgins will be the guest of honour at a reception hosted by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano tomorrow and is due to visit the Irish College and address a business event.

The President will also visit the burial place of exiled Irish earls Hugh O'Neill and Rory O'Donnell.

He will visit the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN on Friday, before returning home on Saturday.