ROME (AP) — It's wheels up on Pope Francis' first trip abroad as pontiff.
A special Alitalia flight carrying Francis, his entourage and journalists who will cover him on his weeklong visit to Brazil took off 10 minutes behind schedule Monday from Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport.
Keeping to his example that the Catholic church must be humble, Francis carried his own black hand luggage. He even kept holding it with his left hand while he used his right to shake hands with some of the VIPs who turned out to wish him well and while he climbed the stairs to the jet's entrance. Among the dignitaries was Italian Premier Enrico Letta.
The flight goes straight to Rio de Janeiro.