by Binari Ferroviari
They dribble tourists like last drops of wine, abandon you to lands where the only sound is plates of pesto clinking, lovers laughing, green sea lapping the pirate castle.
Local trains creak and sweat, full of adventurers and nuns, pickpockets and accordion players so giddy, you gladly let them pick it. National trains are sleek and swift, gleaming bullets in a country with no guns. On both, couples clutch and kiss, just another daily need like espresso, precluding the need for guns.
In Tuscany, trains shrug past castles and vineyards casually, the marble quarries of Michelangelo matter-of-factly. In Naples, it’s the graffiti of dirty laundry, aired proudly. It’s almost sinful, the beauty in every frame, a flashing filmstrip of life laid naked. The adventurers smile. The nuns look askance, but even they cry out, “Oh, God!” in the square when they taste gelato.
On some trains, the smell of urine wafts, fine wine turned back to water, the panini picnickers oblivious. On others, the bewitching scent of Armani-suited or cobblestone-laying men pervades. Automatic doors swoosh like the Enterprise as men materialize from every villaggio and citta. Their only baggage is an impossible, aching beauty that’s almost alien.
First they stand behind the glass between cars, enter you with their agate eyes, see whose eyes are upon them. Then they shake their chestnut gloss, kindle their smiles and choose a seat with the best view of you. Rome to Venice, they ask what’s in your soul, care about your family, think your mole is a beauty mark, fall in love with that last five pounds. You’re Ciao Bella, Mamma Mia. You’re Amor, Adored. No matter your age, they unravel you, time travel you to sexteen. The nuns look askance with Mona Lisa smiles.
On all of them, cell phones invite you into private drawing rooms. The train, the square: there’s nowhere to hide. Might as well be yourself, hear each other, smell each other, kiss each other. Clack of tracks plays the beat, Pronto’s and Ciao’s the melody, and everything ends in “Oh’s” and “Ah’s.” Even arguments are a lullaby. And it’s not just Italians. It’s Syrians, French, Africans, Norwegians, and you: close community of the World Family, whipping who-knows-where in a non-violent bullet, targeting art, gelato and green sea. That’s when Italy sings you to sleep. To the tune of bella bella beautiful, the children close their eyes.