HomeTravel83-year-old Italian man moves out of airport after 9-month stay

83-year-old Italian man moves out of airport after 9-month stay


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This article was originally published in Italian

Airport staff became ‘like family’ to Arnaldo.


An elderly man who had been living in Bologna airport for nine months has been given a new home.

Known only as Arnaldo, the 83-year-old started living in the airport when he was no longer able to afford rent.

Staff Marconi airport, Italy’s seventh largest, had become like a family to him, giving him a sleeping bag, coffee and meals. An airport newsstand also granted him a newspaper to read every day.

Arnaldo may remind you of Tom Hanks’ character in the film ‘The Terminal’, but here the pensioner is stuck because of poverty rather than bureaucracy.

Why was Arnaldo living in an airport?

Originally from the Italian island of Sicily, Arnaldo is now a resident of Bastiglia, in the province of Modena.

Last summer, he found himself unable to pay rent, surviving only on a pension. Despite the help of local homelessness services, he ended up living at Bologna‘s Marconi airport.

He slept outside, saying he didn’t want to “be a nuisance”, but it was not sustainable when winter came. He moved into the airport’s check-in area.

There he received an unexpected welcome. Airport staff staff started providing him with coffee and food, as well as a sleeping bag.

Arnaldo’s happy ending

Nine months into Arnaldo’s stay at the airport, Bologna municipality have stepped in to help.

While they try to find him a permanent home he is being housed in a hotel, certainly a step up from an airport terminal building.

Luca Rizzo Nervo, Bologna’s Councillor for Welfare, says that Arnaldo moved to Bologna without contacting local social services, but once they were aware of his case support was offered. The councillor said he was sorry authorities only learned of his case from media reports and emphasised the importance of asking authorities for help when needed.

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