WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pope Francis was hard to spot in the motorcade of more than 20 armed SUVs and police cars motoring into the nation's capital on Tuesday. The pontiff shunned the fancy wheels in favor of a much more modest ride: a Fiat.
After he stepped off his plane at Andrews Air Force Base in neighboring Maryland, Francis was driven away in the back of a tiny, charcoal gray Fiat 500L. The four-door model was sandwiched between two enormous black SUVs in the motorcade.
A half-hour or so later, the Italian-made car could be spotted coming around the corner at the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission, where Francis was spending the night. The small Vatican flag adorning the car did little to make it stand out from the many flashing police cars and other security vehicles accompanying him.
Francis has made a point of using particularly modest cars, part of his emphasis on simplicity and conservatism and rejection of today's consumerist lifestyle. He uses a blue Ford Focus to get around the Vatican, and during his visit to South Korea moved around town in a Kia.
Other popes have been known for their use of the popemobile, the informal name for special vehicles with glass-enclosed viewing areas that let the pope move through huge crowds without risking his security. Benedict XVI, the former pope, used such a vehicle when he visited Washington in 2008, and Francis is expected to use one for at least a portion of his tour of city streets on Wednesday.
This pope seems less than concerned about his own security. As soon as he got in the back seat of the Fiat, the window was rolled down, allowing him to gaze out and wave at the cheering crowds.
It's a sight you wouldn't see in President Barack Obama's motorcade. The Secret Service keeps the windows in his limousine rolled up to help protect the president.