Every trip to Italy starts the same way: Making una prenotazione (a reservation) for a flight. I check the orario (schedule) online to find un volo diretto (a direct flight). I look for posti disponibili (seats available) in classe turistica or economica (economy class), business class or prima classe (first class).
I usually buy un volo di andata e ritorno (a round–trip flight) rather than un volo di sola andata (one-way ticket). I prefer un posto vicino al finestrino (window seat); my very tall husband, un posto vicino al corridoio (aisle seat). Given life's uncertainties, I hope I don't have to annullare or cambiare il mio volo (cancel or change my flight).
As the date of my partenza (departure) approaches, I double-check the franchigia del bagaglio (luggage allowance), il mio passaporto (my passport) and the orario di partenza (time of departure). The Italian phrase for check-in time is l’orario per le procedure d’accettazione, but, understandably, even native speakers say “check-in.”
I like to arrive early, with my biglietto elettronico (e-ticket) or carta d’imbarco (boarding pass) and my bagaglio a mano (hand luggage). I stay in the sala d’attesa (waiting room) until it’s time to go to the cancello d’imbarco (departure gate).
I’m relieved to hear the announcement that the plane is imbarco immediato (boarding now). I always worry about a ritardo (delay), especially if there’s a sciopero (strike)--whether of i controllori di volo (air traffic controllers), gli assistenti di volo (flight attendants), il personale di terra (ground crew) or i piloti (pilots).
On board I know I must allacciare la cintura di sicurezza (fasten my seatbelt) before il decollo (take-off). The assistente di volo (flight attendant) offers a cuscino (pillow), coperta (blanket) and cuffie auricolari (headset) so I can listen to music or watch a movie. However, since it’s a long flight, I prefer to schiacciare un pisolino (take a little nap).
After l’atterraggio (landing) at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport (better known as Fiumicino for the nearby town named for a little river or fiume), I take a shuttle to the main terminal. I feel that I have truly arrived in Italy when I hear the announcement, “La navetta sta per arrivare.” (The shuttle—literally, little ship—is about to arrive.)
In the ritiro bagagli (baggage claim) area, I look for a screen (schermo) indicating my flight number and the luggage carousel. Usually I rent a carrello (cart) to help with my bags. Once I waited, and waited, and waited, but la mia valigia non è mai arrivata a destinazione (my suitcase never arrived at the destination).
That’s when I learned another essential travel phrase: La mia valigia è stata smarrita. (My suitcase has been lost.) It turned up eventually, and I reminded myself that the rewards of travel outweigh its hassles.
As Sant’Agostino (St. Augustine) observed very long ago, “Il mondo è un libro e quelli che non viaggiano ne leggono solo una pagina.” (“The world is like a book, and those who don’t travel read only one page of it.”) I'm happy that so many of the pages in my book turned out to be Italian!
Words and Expressions
Agenzia di viaggio -- travel agency
Viaggiare col cavallo di San Francesco -- to go on foot (on the horse of St. Frances)
Viaggiare come un baule -- to travel like a trunk, that is, without seeing anything or without curiosity, just like an object
Fare un viaggio e due servizi -- to make one trip and two services or to kill two birds with one stone
Viaggio d’affari / viaggio di lavoro –- business trip ( as opposed to viaggio di piacere)
Ultima chiamata per il volo #… -- last call for the flight #...
Dianne Hales is the author of MONA LISA: A Life Discovered and LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.
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