(November 1, 2015) I had been out with other friends, and was just being delivered back to Piazza Vallegloria (only a few steps from my door) when Paola and Leonardo asked if I’d like to go with them to take daughter Arianna to the airport at Ciampino. It is the secondary airport in Rome, where Ryanair has its flights, and Arianna was leaving for several months for an internship in Valencia, Spain—where she would be working with international real estate clients. After her graduation from college, where she had focused her studies as a languages major (including English and Spanish), she had been accepted to work with a huge real estate firm, translating for and working with foreign clients. (Here in Italy, the high school chosen determines the career path for the future–and Arianna graduated from a “liceo linguistico”–languages-centered high school–and then followed with a languages major in her university studies in Perugia. Other liceos focus on science, classics, agriculture, technology, art and a variety of career options.)
I accepted the opportunity to go along, since I had never seen Ciampino airport and knew little about it—and had only about a minute to get into the car and buckle up. In Leonardo’s mind, we were desperately late departing for Rome—and his driving showed his anxiety and concern that final preparations and packing by both Arianna and Paola were going to be the cause of Arianna missing her flight. With a drive of nearly 2 hours ahead of us, Leonardo was determined to make up the lost time by speeding—but it was a Sunday night after a holiday weekend, and traffic was horrible. Instead, he was even more frustrated and we were often backed up in stopped traffic, raising the tension each minute.
We made it to the airport in time, parked, and walked Arianna into the terminal for final good-byes from Paola and Leonardo. Their older daughter, Giorgia, lives nearby in Spello and has a 2-year-old daughter, Stella. Giorgia, Pietro and Stella are daily fixtures in Paola and Leonardo’s household, but this younger daughter was leaving Spello for several months—and emotions were running high to be putting her on a plane and saying good-bye, not even knowing for certain if she’d be allowed to return to her family for Christmas (Natale).
After numerous hugs and kisses, and lots of “Call me if . . .” and “When you get there . . . “ messages, it was finally time to send Arianna through security to catch her 9:15 p.m. flight. She checked her phone for final texts from Luca, her boyfriend, and finally all was in place for her departure. There were last-minute embraces, a few veiled tears, and then Arianna was gone, off to live in Spain for several months.
We had a relatively quiet ride home to Spello, with Paola thanking me for coming along and “preventing her” from a total breakdown in tears as she was watching Arianna depart. I’m guessing that the tears came later, but with Skype and WhatsApp and texting, and Paola and Leonardo’s plans to visit Arianna in Valencia a few months later, they will have daily contact, and will become accustomed to having her away for a while. The evening ended well, and I had a very unexpected trip to Rome and back, but all turned out perfectly for Arianna’s departure.