Tag Archives: Italy

L’Italia È Molto Bella

Dr. and Mrs. Skeptical Cardiologist have returned from two weeks in Italy and I have to say, this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

Here are my top 3 experiences:

  1. The Cinque Terre. Five villages tucked into the cliffs above the Mediterranean and connected by trains and trails, featuring gorgeous vistas available to those willing to climb and hike.
Vernazza, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre, viewed from the trail that connects it to Monterosso.
Vernazza, from the beginning of the trail to Corniglia. The hike took us about 2 hours and was strenuous but wonderful. 
From high up on the Vernazza-Corniglia trail. Corniglia in foreground, Manarola in distance.

2. The heart of Tuscany, in the Val d’Orcia,

View from our B&B at La Foce, near Montepulciano, looking into the Val d’Orcia.

Garden at the La Foce Estate
From the base of the ruined castle known as the Rocca di Tentennano, which sits on a pinnacle high above the Val d’Orcia, with the small village of the Rocca d’Orcia just below.
Sunset, Rocca d’Orcia with Monte Amiata in the distance.

3. Florence, chock full of Renaissance architecture, art, tourists and incredible panoramic views from Giotto’s Campanille and the top of the Duomo:

Perusing the artwork in front of the Duomo, part of the complex of buildings that make up Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy.
“the gloaming” on the river Arno

 

We did lots of stair climbing in Florence. We climbed 463 steps to get to the top of the Duomo, from which Giotto’s Campanille (bell tower) can be seen. An hour earlier we climbed the 414 steps of the bell tower. Per Wikipedia “the tower is one of the showpieces of Florentine Gothic architecture with its design by Giotto, its rich sculptural decorations and its polychrome marble encrustations.”
The skeptical cardiologist descending the narrow and often windy stairs from the Duomo roof. 

To any patients who were inconvenienced by my delayed return, my sincere apologies. The good news is that your cardiologist is now fully recharged and ready to resume practice with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

ciao

-ACP

Italy And The Valsalva Manouevre

Antonio Maria Valsalva (1666-1723) was an Italian anatomist, physician and surgeon whose name is familiar to cardiologists for two reasons. First, he described what are now termed the sinuses of Valsalva, the three areas of dilatation in the proximal portion of the aorta just outside the opening of the aortic valve.

Second, in his textbook on the ear, De aure humana tractatus, published in 1704 in Bologna, he showed an original method of inflating the middle ear (now called Valsalva’s manoeuvre) in order to expel pus. A variation of this classic Valsalva maneuver is used frequently in cardiology for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

The skeptical cardiologist and his newly-minted bride, will be jetting off to Italy in a few weeks but, alas, we are not visiting Bologna. Hopefully we won’t need to utilize the original Valsalva manouevre to equalize the pressure between our middle ears and the cabin atmosphere in order to prevent otic barotrauma as we descend.

I don’t feel so bad about the rock because the wikipedia caption reads as follows:Sections of Hadrian’s Wall remain along the route, though much has been dismantled over the years to use the stones for various nearby construction projects.

I’ve been fascinated by the Roman Empire since I took Latin in high school. I was so obsessed with all things Roman that when my family traveled back to England to visit relatives and such, I insisted on us visiting Hadrian’s Wall. Don’t tell the authorities, but I still possess a rock I took from said wall.

The only time I’ve been to Italy was 30 years ago after presenting at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Nice, France. I foolishly rented a car and drove north to Lago Maggiore. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life.

The Italian Itinerary

This time we are flying into Rome and then taking a train to Florence.

From Florence I’m planning to rent a car (having failed to learn my lesson) to drive to La Foce, an historic estate, which lies on the hills overlooking the Val d’Orcia.

La Foce

We’ll spend two nights in the B&B portion of this place, which sounds amazing:

Midway between Florence and Rome, it is also within easy reach of Siena, Arezzo, Perugia, Assisi, Orvieto. Renaissance and medieval gems such as Pienza, Montepulciano, Monticchiello and Montalcino are only a few miles away. The countryside abounds in lovely walks among woods and the characteristic crete senesi (clay hills); the food is among the best in Tuscany and famous wines such as the Vino Nobile and Brunello can be tasted in the local cellars. The Val d’Orcia has recently been included among the World Heritage sites of UNESCO.

From the heart of Tuscany, we then drive to the coast of northern Tuscany to meet up with the in-laws in Viareggio.

Manarola

 

After a few nights in Viareggio with Geo (the man on the statin fence) and Wendy, we will all take a ferry to the Cinque Terra, staying in Manarola.

Lastly, we will travel to Milan, and then fly home.

I’ve got a good idea of what the top tourist destinations are in these cities from reading Rick Steves’ book on Italy and from discussions with friends who have been there.

However, we typically prefer wandering semi-aimlessly in great cities, rather than dealing with large tourist herds at the must-see attractions.

I’m actually more interested in La Specola in Florence than I am in seeing Michaelangelo’s David. La Specola:

spans 34 rooms and contains not only zoological subjects, such as a stuffed hippopotamus(a 17th-century Medici pet, which once lived in the Boboli Gardens), but also a collection of anatomical waxes (including those by Gaetano Giulio Zumbo and Clemente Susini), an art developed in Florence in the 17th century for the purpose of teaching medicine. This collection is very famous worldwide for the incredible accuracy and realism of the details, copied from real corpses. Also in La Specola on display are scientific and medical instruments. Parts of the museum are decorated with frescoes and pietra dura representing some of the principal Italian scientific achievements from the Renaissance to the late 18th century.

I tend to rely on Rick Steves’ books for European travel, but if any readers have experience in these Italian areas please feel free to add them to the comments section or send me an email at dr._pearson@icloud.com. I would be especially interested in “off-the-beaten path” things of interest (especially if they have a literary, medical or scientific connection) and restaurant recommendations.

 

To all my patients, please accept my apologies for any rescheduling this may have caused.

In my absence you will be in good hands as my partners, primarily Brian Kaebnick, will be covering for me.

Arrivederci!

-ACP