Rome Fiumicino Airport, February 5, 8am. I’m actually here. Through customs quickly, I scan the arrival hall for a place to perform the Ritual.
I’m going to need a few things, a place to sit and a clear view of the arrival hall.
This is my first time in Rome, so it’s important to get this right. Anticipating a lap of the terminal to find a suitable place, I spot a coffee bar over on my left. This could work.
Approaching, I see and hear a small, excited crowd around the espresso counter. My pace quickens.
After paying at the till, I realise I need to take my receipt to the other side of the counter. A beautiful, tanned woman with Sophia Loren eyes and Fidel Castro cap takes my receipt. She scans it briskly and hands me a croissant wrapped at one end in paper. The absence of a plate or bag puzzles me, until I see the people around me eating their pastries and drinking coffee standing up.
While Sophia makes my cappuccino, I can’t resist joining the fun by taking a bite of my croissant. I’m surprised by the thick, strawberry jam that oozes onto my tongue (I learned later I had just tasted my first cornetto, the Italian relative of the croissant).
Now at last, equipped with coffee and half-eaten cornetto, all I need is a place to sit. With a clear view of the arrival hall, remember? Hmmm… there, by the windows, a row of high tables and bar stools. Perfect.
At last I’m ready. Time to perform the Ritual.