updated 8/26/2009 1:27:29 PM ET 2009-08-26T17:27:29

It's an enduring problem in the eternal city — seemingly endless baggage delays at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport.

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Now, Rome's mayor says he is determined to resolve the issue after he joined the legions of Rome-bound travelers left waiting for their bags at the airport in Fiumicino, a seaside town near Italy's capital.

"I, too, have become a victim of an incredible inconvenience that continues to repeat itself at Fiumicino airport — the long wait for baggage," Mayor Gianni Alemanno said.

He summoned baggage handling companies, airport management and civil aviation authorities to City Hall for a meeting early next month "so that this shame can end as soon as possible."

After a flight Monday night from Venice of scarcely an hour, "I waited for more than an hour, in a crowded room and with air conditioning which barely worked," Alemanno said in a statement.

His jacket draped over a baggage cart, Alemanno leaned up against a pillar and waited in his shirt sleeves along with wife for his bags to arrive, according to photos published Wednesday on the front page of national daily Corriere della Sera, which said it obtained the pictures from a passenger who took them on a cell phone.

"It's an unacceptable situation for an airport that should be of international caliber," the mayor said in one of three statements his office issued Tuesday night about the problem.

Alemanno's wait was hardly unique or particularly lengthy: Frequent travelers to Rome say it's not uncommon to wait up to two hours for bags to materialize, if they arrive at all.

Italy's national civil aviation authority ENAC on Wednesday announced its own summit on the problem. Slideshow: Awful airlines

ENAC said on Tuesday alone, about 20 fines were levied, amounting to a total of around euro40,000 ($57,000), against Alitalia and ground services companies including baggage handlers, because of delayed or lost bags.

Fines can be levied if the wait for bags to be put on the carousel takes longer than 30 minutes for domestic flights, with a little more leeway for international flights. But there's a loophole: Just putting a few of the flight's bags on the conveyer belts within the time limit is enough to avoid a fine.

That might help explain why a couple of bags always seem to materialize quickly, raising what turn out to be foolish hopes when the rest of the bags tumble out much later.

On Tuesday, two Alitalia flights for Milan's Linate airport took off without loading any luggage at all, leaving the passengers to wait hours for other flights from Rome to arrive with their bags, Italian news reports said.

Fiumicino's baggage problem has defied earlier efforts to solve it. Two years ago, in the middle of the peak summer travel season, Italy's then-transport minister promised measures to improve the chaotic baggage-handling system after thousands of outbound bags were left unloaded.

Some Alitalia unions have blamed the problems on labor cuts after the national carrier was privatized last year. One union for Alitalia on Wednesday called a one-day strike for Sept. 18 in protest.

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