GADDAFI MAKING FIRST ITALY VISIT
He will be accompanied by a delegation of Libyan businessmen looking to boost their investments in Italian industry.
Colonel Gaddafi will, as usual, be staying in the tent he takes on foreign trips, and will meet Italy's president and prime minister.
Talks are also expected to focus on the issue of illegal immigration.
Security will be tight during the three-day visit, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.
Demonstrations are planned by left-wing students who are against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's policy – with Libyan help – of intercepting and forcibly repatriating immigrants who try to reach Italy by sea.
Col Gaddafi is expected to meet his visitors in his Bedouin-style tent which has been set up in the park of a 17th Century Roman villa where he is staying.
He is also due to address a group of 700 women at Rome's concert hall, having requested a meeting with prominent Italian women from the fields of business, politics and culture.
He held a similar meeting on a visit to Paris in 2007 with 1,000 selected women guests, who were told he wanted to “save European women.”
Col Gaddafi, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the African Union, will return to Rome next month as a delegate to the Group of Eight (G8) summit.
But this is his first visit to Italy since he took power in a coup in 1969, following Italy's 30-year occupation of Libya.
The BBC's correspondent in Tripoli, Rana Jawad, says the two countries have had a love-hate relationship.
Since independence the Italian language has been effectively banned in Libya, she says, while Italian settlers were expelled soon after Col Gaddafi took power and barred from ever returning.
Italy's brutal occupation of Libya, when tens of thousands of Libyans were forcibly moved to concentration camps, was not easily forgotten, she says.
But in the past few years the relationship has flourished and even turned to friendship.
Business deals have surged and expelled settlers are now allowed to visit.
And last year Rome agreed to pay Libya $5bn (£3bn) in reparations for the misdeeds of colonial times.