We are on a high-speed (Frecciarossa) train from Milan to Naples. It’s the first day of our vacation. The display under the ceiling says that our train is moving at 296 km/h. It feels as if I am sitting still for the first time in the past several days.

Going to and coming from a six-months sabbatical feels less like a vacation trip, but more like moving the entire household. The amount of luggage we are taking with us is overwhelming. In our defense, we have been away from home during three distinct seasons, so just the clothes take up a lot of space. In fact, our five-year-old grew out of a good portion of the wardrobe that we brought with us. We knew this would be the case, so we didn’t even make an attempt to travel light.


Claudia, who was checking us out of the apartment, asked how we would manage all these bags at the train station.

It went like this:

I called the taxi and asked them to pick us up in a van. We took down the bags in three trips by elevator (again, in our defence, it’s a tiny one). The driver helped us load the bags into the van. At the train station, there were two types of porters, who helped with the luggage. First, an “unofficial” porter loaded the suitcases on a dolly and carried them to the platform level of the building, but he could not go to the actual platform (only passengers with tickets and the station employees can go there). From the ticket checkpoint, one of the official porters (i.e. an employee of the train station) took us to the train. He had a tablet, which showed the platform assignments for the trains a couple of minutes before the announcement was made on the monitors. This was the crucial advantage, which by itself made hiring a porter worthwhile, because getting to the train early gave us some time to figure out how to store the luggage before the rest of the passengers poured in.

We were in the “2nd standard” class coach, where the seat rows are located close to each other. The designated spaces for luggage on the floor between the seats can accommodate the “large” suitecase, but not the “extra-large”. The XL bags, surprisingly, can fit on the overhead shelf, albeit with some effort. The hard shell suitecases, which are very popular these days, are actually more difficult to fit, because they do not deform as easy as the ones made of the soft material.

Now, the train is speeding along, but it feels like we have finally stopped moving. I am ready for vacation.