Pope Francis luggage
Pope Francis holds his hand luggage at Rome's airport (Reuters)

Pope Francis carried his own bag as he boarded a flight to Brazil for his first official trip overseas, which risks being overshadowed by controversies over its cost.

The pontiff arrived via helicopter at Rome's Fiumicino airport, where a special Alitalia flight was ready to take off for Rio de Janeiro, where Francis will preside over the Roman Catholic World Youth Day (WYD) festival.

Francis tweeted:

Francis, 76, held onto a small black attache-style bag - his hand luggage - with his left hand, as he stepped out onto the runway and was welcomed by some Italian dignitaries, including Italian PM Enrico Letta.

Bag in hand, the Pope saluted the delegation and then climbed the stairs to the airbus A330's entrance.

Francis, who set a new humble course in the Vatican upon taking office earlier this year, also announced he will not use his bulletproof Popemobile but an open-top jeep during his week-long trip.

Some two million pilgrims are expected to arrive in Rio de Janeiro to attend the festival and witness Francis celebrating Mass on the famous Copacabana beach.

Francis' genuine style has boosted his popularity across the world and particularly in his native Latin America.

"I absolutely think there is renewed happiness within the church that began with the election of Pope Francis." Sao Paulo Cardinal Odilo Scherer said. "[He] is showing himself to be extremely charismatic, with a language that is simple and direct".

However Brazilian authorises have tightened security measures, fearing the visit could revive the widespread turmoil that gripped the world's largest catholic nation, last month.

Some 22,000 security staff are to be deployed in Rio and authorities have banned masks at the Festival.

More than one million people took to the streets in June, angered at the government's collosal budget for the hosting of the 2014 football World Cup in the face of poor social and public services.

Many demonstrators wore Guy Fawkes masks, which have become a symbol of anti-establishment movements around the world.

Hacktivist group Anonymous, which also uses Guy Fawkes masks as a symbol, has called for demonstrations against the Pope's visit denouncing its high costs, estimated to be as high as £90m. £40m was reportedly stumped up by the Brazilian government.

Brazil Gears up for World Youth Day and Pope's Visit [SLIDESHOW]

Pope Francis
Pope Francis talks with Italy's PM Enrico Letta before flying to Brazil for the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro (Reuters) Reuters