Viaggio Solo

I am standing at Leonardo da Vinci airport. I am standing, in line behind a bunch of motley passengers. We're all waiting to get out of Italy. No the Carabinieri isn't after us. We’re just leaving, in an end-of-business/end-of-pleasure sort of way.

For those flying out of Caeser and Mussolini’s one-time imperium, this glass-and-steel avatar of the great artist (da Vinci) is the last post of civilization. After da Vinci there’s just space, clouds and cling-film-wrapped airline food. Old Leo is a sort of gateway to the sky, like all airports are meant to be.

As I await my turn to reach the sky, my thoughts are already flying. I am hovering above the Fiumicino, on the way to the obsessively grand Piazza Venezia. At the obsessively grand Piazza I can see the stone heads of gods, goddesses and war heroes that preside over the eternal city.

From the Piazza I fly above the road leading to the Colosseum, outside which Romans in skirts and togas strike 2-Euro poses with visitors from different worlds. I pass the Arch of Constantine and turn towards the Forum where Rome’s most powerful men once sat and plotted the spread of civilzation.

That's the Senate, I can hear the guide’s voice booming like a thunderclap. That’s where Julius Caesar was butchered by his friends, the voice is saying with a typically Italian sense of greek tragedy. I am now flying wondering how Caesar, freshly disembodied, would have felt hovering above the Senate after his friends butchered him. Did he mourn his loss? Was he thrilled at his release? Or was he simply shocked to see his own blood spilled?

Just then my flying is jerked to halt. I am back at the check-in counter. And I am face to face with the glorious smile of an Italian air-hostess. “Viaggio solo?” she’s asking me. I stare at her blankly, like someone recovering from a huge cranial thwack. “Are you travelling alone?” she asks me suspecting a case of airport amnesia. “Yes, yes, I am,” I say by way of explanation, apology and interest. “Yes I am,” I tell her again in an attempt to make conversation, “Aren’t we all, in a sense…”

She once again breaks into a gorgeously dimpled smile. “You can stand here. It’s the line for single passengers," she says. Smiles again.

"Goodbye passenger, Buon Viaggio!”

Buon Viaggio I say to her and to Old Leo and await my safe flight.


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