I think it’s fair to judge the success of a trip by how sad you are to go home. I think this as I stand on a bus that will take me across the tarmac of Florence’s airport to the airplane that is waiting for me. And, I don’t want to go home, but go home I must.
I look out the bus’ window to see a flurry of flashing yellow lights. Other passengers like me wait on nearby buses to take them to their planes and their destinations. I hope they aren’t going home, but rather, I hope their journeys are just beginning.
I watch my friends as they board a similar bus at the gate to my left. I was sad to see them get on board the bus. After all, it was friends that brought me to Florence.
Once on board, I find some solace in the fact that my seat appears to be in first class – that is if Alitalia actually had a distinct first class on its Florence to Milan flight. All I know is that behind the row behind me is a curtain. Yes, I’m in front of it. Good enough for me, I’m in first class. Even the sign mounted on the wall in front of me reads “Pima” — which indicates I’m in first class.
Nothing but the best for my Italian trip. It’s just a shame that the seats on this Airbus A-319 aren’t a little bit bigger. Or leather for that matter.
But suddenly it occurs to me, this trip is going to end just like it began. Flying in Italy is quite an experience. We should have left 15 minutes ago, but no one seems to be in too much of a hurry. As it turns out, fog in Milan is causing the delay. I just hope I don’t miss my connection. Well come to think of it, maybe I’ll get to see Milan after all.
We sit on the runway for almost two hours before we depart. This must be a cruel joke: Just over a week ago, my plane from Atlanta to Milan was delayed and I almost missed my connection. I ran through the Milan airport so I wouldn’t miss my plane. “I made it then, and I’m going to make it the second time,” I thought to myself.
Part of me wished I would have missed that plane back to the States, that I could then head to a car, grab a panino and a caffe and go about my life as if I was an Italian. Certainly my trip to Italy was amazing, but wasn’t long enough. Aren’t they all that way?
There is so much more I would like to have seen, so many more hours I wanted to spend with my friends.
I gaze out the window as the 767 backs out from gate B13. There is a bevy of activity on the tarmac. Life in Milan goes on, and sadly it is continuing without me. But, I feel confident in saying, “I’ll be back.” You can never spend too much time in Italy.
Sitting on the plane and writing in a steno notebook, I try and reflect on my trip. I’m not even sure where to begin. Do I discuss the food? How about the 2,000-year-old ruins? What about watching thousands of people making a pilgrimage to one of the world’s holiest sites?
No matter where I begin, the verdict is the same: For ten days, I had the time of my life.
Every site I saw had some unique aspect to it. It’s hard to pick one day and say, “This was the highlight of the trip.” But, if any one thing was the highlight of the trip, it was being able to visit such a magnificent country with my closest friends.
This is it, there’s no turning back. The plane turns out toward the illuminated runway, speeds up and begins to life off the ground and will soon vanish into the thick Milan fog. My Italian journey is now a memory, albeit a great one.
Arrivederci Italia. Non posso attendere per vederli ancora.