Italian tourist turns up in Iraq, looking to tour the country. Iraqis are baffled. Who is this guy? And is he naive or just plain crazy?
“I am a tourist” were his first words. The telephone line from Falluja was bad, but there could be no mistake. Possibly Iraq’s, and certainly Falluja’s, first Western leisure visitor was in town.
Not for long though. A guard at a checkpoint caught sight of Luca Marchio among the Iraqi passengers on a bus that was heading from Baghdad to the once-notorious – and still tense – western city and alerted his superiors.
Marchio, 33, a native of Como, Italy, soon found himself in the Falluja police headquarters surrounded by bewildered officers trying to make out why a Westerner would wander around their city without a translator or guards. Marchio may have worried the police, but his main concern was saving money.
In two telephone conversations with journalists, he brushed away concerns for his safety and offers of help. “I am a tourist,” he said. “I want to see the most important cities in the country. That is the reason why I am here now.
There’s a delightful movie in this somewhere. That is, if he survives.