A Year in the World
Continued from page 1
Excerpt 1: Flying with Italians
The plane from
Lisbon to Rome is delayed two hours, and we have drawn seats in the rear. I'm
squinched in the middle, and Ed is across the aisle in the window seat. A great
deal of chaos goes on around us as people take seats wherever they want,
ignoring assigned seats. Everyone is speaking Italian. The flight attendants
give up. As we take off, several people shout and scream. Ed and I look at each
other: What's going on? As soon as the plane is aloft, everyone gets up,
visiting, queuing for the bathroom, passing fruit around. The seat belt sign
comes on, and the plane starts to jounce. More screams, but no one sits down. So
much is being handed back and forth. I am given food and photographs and
postcards. The airline's processed sandwiches are greeted with loud cries of
"Che schifo!" What shit! We are right in the dead center of a group of rowdy
southern Italians who have been on a pilgrimage to visit the shrine of Fatima.
For most of them, this is the first flight. I have never heard so much
laughter--or any laughter--on a flight. The man next to me sees my amazement.
"Signora, a little confusion is good for the heart." Ed collects several
business cards and hears life stories. The pilot begins the descent into
Fiumicino, and the aisles remain jammed. No one can hear the voices on the
speaker admonishing everyone to buckle their seat belts and raise their tray
tables. Finally, the attendants start to shout and ride herd. The pilgrims
remain quiet only for a moment. We're going home to Italy. Let the singing
Excerpt 2: An English house of horrors
A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller
by Frances Mayes
Book excerpt copyright © 2006
by Frances Mayes. All rights reserved.
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