I went back to Italy for capodanno (New Year) 2019. For the majority of this trip, Luca and I went to Piemonte’s Langhe region and skiing around Courmayeur. About a year ago, I posted about my 5 top experiences during a summer trip to Italy. After the trip last winter, it only feels right to update the top 5!
You may have heard the statistic that, on average, the brain comprises 2% of the human body mass, but uses up 20% of the total oxygen supply, and 25% of the glucose production. This makes the brain one of the most energetically demanding organs for its size. In particular, the retina is incredibly energetically demanding. The retina is a layer of neurons in back of each eyeball, and serves as the step where light is converted into neural signals. The rods and cones of the retina are photoreceptors responding to light, which then activate or deactivate the subsequent layers of cells.
It’s impossible to see all (or even most) of what Italy has to offer in just two weeks. That’s why typically, on a first trip to Italy, most Americans will stick to the basics and visit Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, Positano, etc. While these cities have a lot to offer, they are very popular cities for sight-seeing which creates tourist crowds and rushes to see every old church and renaissance sculpture. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of sight-seeing. I much prefer to explore cities and cultures by eating and drinking in different spots and meandering around. I find that a lot of the “must sees” by other people’s standards are just not as enjoyable for me. For example, when we went to Florence, Luca and I didn’t feel pressured to go to the Uffizi. We knew we probably wouldn’t want to spend the time required to enjoy it, and were busy eating at aperitivo.
Let’s talk about the areas of the brain and some of their functions. I will start with a structural overview, and then dive into functionality. If there is something that seems unfamiliar and isn’t bold, try reading this previous post.
The cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem make up the brain. For our purposes, we will focus on the structural areas in the cerebrum. The external part of the cerebrum is the cerebral cortex (sometimes referred to as the cortex). The cortex is the large, white part of the brain with grooves in Figure 1 (this is the part that most people think of when imagining the brain). Some subcortical structures, not pictured in Figure 1, are directly below the cortex and are also considered a part of the cerebrum. Subcortical simply means “below the cortex”, so the brain stem and cerebellum are subcortical structures, but are not part of the cerebrum.
Italy stole my heart, and in a very aggressive manner. I went for the last two weeks of May, and pretty much everyday for a couple weeks after my return, I teared up a bit thinking about how much I wanted to go back. The experience was especially unique because I went with Luca, my boyfriend who is Italian and showed me around from a local’s perspective. We spent the two weeks touring the North and Tuscany, so I’ll definitely need at least another trip to see Southern Italy!
While there were many wonderful experiences, here are the five things that enjoyed the most from my trip (in no particular order).