Pope Francis arrived at Fiumicino Airport in Rome just before 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning. A row of cameras and military officials were waiting for him as he stepped out of a small sedan.
He shook hands with several people before moving up the stairs to get onto the papal plane. The Pope held his own bag with one hand and the railing with the other.
He waved good-bye to Italy from the top of the stairs before shaking hands with the Alitalia flight crew and pilots.
The seven-hour flight began moments later, as the Pope kicked off his long anticipated trip to Africa.