Almost halfway between the famous Italian cities of Pisa and Genoa on Italy’s western coast you will find the Cinque Terre or “the Five Lands,” a collection of five small villages, some almost 1,000 years old, separated from one another and from the rest of Italy by a series of steep and rugged mountains. The only ways to get there or to go from one town to the next are to hike over the mountains, take a local train, or drive over dizzyingly curvy roads. The area is not that easy to get to, but once you’re there and have left the confines of the train or your rental car, you’ll be glad you made the journey.
Gelato. This has to be one of the most beautiful words in the beautiful Italian language. It was love at first taste when I sampled my first spoonful of the Italian version of ice cream almost 20 years ago, and during my time in Italy it’s not uncommon for me to have a “3 gelato day”, with a scoop or two in the late morning, again as a late afternoon pick me up, and finally as a late night, after dinner treat. Most people I know who have been to Italy cite gelato as one of their favorite things, though I have occasionally encountered the odd, misguided person who shrugs and dismisses it with, “It’s just ice cream.” No, poor misguided one, it is not “just” ice cream.
Several years ago, partly because of my interest in the topic and partly to justify my obsession with travel and turn it into an academic endeavor, I created a 1-unit psychology course entitled, “The Psychology of Travel” which I now teach on a regular basis at Dominican University of California.