Anatomy and mysterious Italian diseases?

DaVinci’s VITRUVIAN MAN (photo courtesy of user I BE GINZ)

“The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone…” That’s how the song goes.

Are you well versed in anatomy? I am most definitely not. My biology class in school covered the subject, but to this day, with a few exceptions, I just couldn’t tell you what bone is where. Most of them, I seem to never even have heard of. This handicaps me a bit when doing crossword puzzles and other word-based puzzles that use these words.

But recently I read an article online that suggests that this might actually be good for my health. Sound a little strange? Perhaps.

The article is called “How to avoid getting ‘hit by air’ in Italy” by Dany Mitzman at the BBC News Magazine (12/03/2011). Italians, it seems, have an in-depth knowledge of anatomy and he has a theory about how this is bad for our health.

She has been making Italy her home for about ten years and has found in the winters that Italians often complain of having “la cervicale”. The reference apparently is to the vertebrae in the back of the neck. But she says there is no translation for “cervicale” in English. Brits just don’t have that condition.

Mitzman writes, “I can leave the gym sweaty to have my shower at home and not catch a chill en route. I can swim after eating and not get congestion or cramp. I can walk around with wet hair and not get ‘la cervicale'”.

She shares another example called “colpo d’aria” which she says translates into “hit of air” – another term the British do not have a term for.

Thomas Gray wrote, “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”¹

I’m not advocating ignoring problems and I’m not making light of suffering. And when I cleared my driveway of snow last weekend I bundled up good. But Mitzman’s article makes me think. I can see that what I hold in my thought is as important as that scarf I wrap around my neck. And her article suggests that maybe it is even more important.

In my own practice of spirituality as a Christian Scientist, I have found that holding in my thought the realization that God gives me (and everyone) only good, including good health, is even more helpful yet. This makes common conditions not translate into my own experience, so to speak. (To be fair, I’m still learning and I don’t have a perfect record doing this, but I have had some nice examples).

Mitzman’s article is a fun read. It’ll get you smiling, if not laughing. It will also make you think. To read her article, click here. Enjoy!

¹ Poem entitled, “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” by Thomas Gray
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4 thoughts on “Anatomy and mysterious Italian diseases?”

  1. Just come across this. One correction: it’s ‘Dany’ Mitzman, not Danny (it’s short for Danielle). He’s a she I’m afraid. See her website at

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