The walk from the old centre of Pisa to the airport took just over an hour. Without a suitcase or a heavy backpack there was no need for the expense of a taxi or the schedule of a bus.
Along the way I broke the no carrying rule. I stopped into a pasticceria and, using my best hand signals and words that sound similar in French and Italian, bought 300g of baked goods as a present for my colleagues.
I put my carrier bag in the plastic tray for its ride through the x-ray machine. It was strange to have something and then be apart from it.
On the plane I tucked it under the seat in front of me. I considered what else it could have held. Maybe some warmer clothes, a book or a proper camera. I considered these things not regretting their absence, but for the possibility that they represented—how little extra would be needed to go somewhere colder or away for longer.
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If you had to carry everything you owned around with you every day you’d probably choose to own a lot less stuff. Imagine taking a full-size, wheeled suitcase to work. Having to find somewhere to put it if you went out for dinner in the evening. Unpacking and repacking. This, somehow, is normal when we go abroad.
On a long journey, the amount carried is always minimal, relative to the number of weeks or months. You’re forced to think about what you need, rather than what you could bring.
These 5 days felt like one of those long journeys. The sense of freedom was the same.
I can’t know whether it would’ve been different with a bag. But I chose Cinque Terre because it was amenable to travelling in this way. And perhaps I loved it for the same reason: that there, I needed nothing else.
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