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book coverA Year in the World

Book Review
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 start.

Next page: Excerpt 2: An English house of horrors

Excerpted from:
A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller
by Frances Mayes

A Year in the World, by Frances Mayes:
Book review
Excerpt 1: Flying with Italians
Excerpt 2: An English house of horrors
Excerpt 3: Savoring Seville

Book excerpt copyright © 2006 by Frances Mayes. All rights reserved.