In Italo Calvino's novel If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, there is a scene in a station cafe. All the trains have gone. And so have other travellers. The protagonist finds himself alone. As I read, I remember many years ago, how I found myself in a similar position in Marco polo Airport in Venice. I had flown there with a ticket provided by the organisers of an engineering exhibition in Padua (Marco Polo is the nearest airport). I was supposed to speak at a conference on storage equipment. A car was to meet me and take me to Padua. When the car was long overdue, and the airport deserted except for an old man sweeping up fag ends, I looked in my file to check that I had my flight details right. I hadn't. I had travelled a day late. Today, someone might have noticed that my ticket was out of date, but not Alitalia on that occasion. When I arrived at Padua by taxi, I bumped into Professor Russo Fratasi, the chairman of the conference, in the hotel lobby. I stammered my apologies, for I should have addressed the conference that afternoon. But this was Italy. "What happened?" said the professor, slapping me on the shoulder, "did you get lost?" In the circumstances I gratefully concurred. It would would not have crossed my mind, if he had not suggested it. "Don't worry," he said, " we can fit you in tomorrow. Have you had something to eat?"
In The Grove, I watch a crow flap up to a TV aerial and settle down. Just behind it, pale in the afternoon sky, is a gibbous moon. The crow sits, waiting for me to photograph it and the moon, but I have no camera. In my mind, the crow and the moon are still waiting .
Thank you for the new word, gibbous.
I'm so amused - the image and text are perfect!
I didn't visit Italy professionally as often I would have liked but on my last visit I experienced what might be described as the reverse of your situation. It could have been Padua and I was one of a small group of journalists to be picked up at 10 am from the hotel where we were staying. Uncharacteristically I got up early and went for a longish stroll round the town, getting back to the hotel at 9.45 am in plenty of time for the pick-up. Except that the organisers had brought the schedule forward by an hour and had informed the others while they were still lying abed. We were then exposed to the other side of the Italian national persona as the organisers looked around for somebody to blame and found, alas for them, no one.
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