Dear Pathologist Colleague,
You may have heard about two rather unique pathology meetings that Prof. Jerónimo Forteza (Currently Professor of Pathology at the University of Valencia, Spain), and I organized in 2004 and 2010 along the Way to Santiago, in which we alternated days of pathology lectures with days of exploration of the natural, artistic and historical highlights of that route. Although I should not be the one to say it, both meetings were very successful.
I assume you are also familiar with the many outstanding postgraduate pathology courses that Dr. Robert Young, from Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital, has organized over the years, mainly in the United States, on various pathology topics. The idea then occurred to Dr. Forteza and myself to ask Dr. Young whether he would consider joining our group as a Co-Director of an itinerant International Pathology Meeting Dear Pathologist Colleague, similar to the ones we had run, and were delighted to receive his enthusiastic acceptance. We completed the team of organizers by adding Dr. Leonard Kahn (Hofstra North Shore-LU School of Medicine, NY) and Dr. José Antúnez (U of Santiago) as Associate Directors and - last but not least - by securing a roster of stellar speakers who will cover the areas of hematopathology, thyroid, skin, soft tissues, skeletal system, gastrointestinal tract, gynecologic pathology, prostate, immunohistochemistry, and several amusing and thought-provoking talks on some artistic and philosophical aspects of surgical pathology.
As far as the venue for the Course was concerned, we initially chose an area of the Middle East which included Jordan and Israel, and which we called (inaccurately, as we later learned) "The Holy Land". However, as the time of the meeting was approaching, we became increasingly aware of the logistic and other serious difficulties that this choice entailed, and decided to change the venue to a very different place: Sicily, the Italian island deservedly known as the pearl of the Mediterranean sea. Every other feature of the meeting was to remain the same as the one we had planned and advertised for the Holy Land: same outstanding faculty, same lectures, same course format, same emphasis in diagnostic pathology, same alternation of science and pleasure; and same camaraderie developing as the meeting moved along. A good indication that we had made a good decision was the fact that the entire faculty agreed enthusiastically to the change of venue, and that this was also true of almost all the individuals who had registered for the Holy Land course.
Those of you who have already visited Sicily do not need to be told about the beauty of the place and the richness of panoramic, artistic and historic sites, the latter being the result of invasions in succession by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French, and Spanish, before the reluctant unification with Italy, each conquest leaving its mark to create a dizzyingly palimpsest of cultures.
Those of you who have not been in Sicily before are in for a very pleasant surprise. Our plan is to visit most of the island's major attractions, including Palermo (with its magnificent Palatine Chapel); the neighboring Cathedral of Monreale (which shares with the city of Ravenna the best mosaics of Italy); Segesta (with a well preserved Doric temple); the medieval hill town of Erice (with a spectacular view of the sea); the island city of Moitya; Selinunte (another site with an impressive classical Greek architecture); Agrigento (with its famous Valley of the Temples, once rivaling Athens in its splendor); Piazza Armerina (with the amazingly modern Villa Romana del Casale and the best preserved mosaics of its kind in the world); Noto (Unesco-protected city, an apotheosis of Baroque architecture); Syracuse (Sicily's most powerful city in classical times and a portal back to the ancient world); Ortygia (a tiny island that is home to the Castello Maniace fortress and the famous duomo, one of the most spectacular buildings in Sicily, once a temple to the Roman goddess Minerva). If this were not enough, the most adventurous participants could choose to stay some extra days (or come a few days in advance) to visit Mount Etna (the largest active volcano in Europe), Catania, Taormina, the charming Egadi Islands, and the equally attractive Aeolian Islands.
The course schedule calls for an arrival on your own in the city of Palermo on Sunday, October 6. On the evening of that day we will attend a welcome reception at the hotel, followed by dinner. The formal Course will begin the next morning, and will consist of alternating days of travel and lecturing, The lectures will take place in different cities along the following route: Palermo-Monreale-Segesta-Erice-Moitya island-Selinunte-Agrigento- Piazza Armerina/Villa del Casale, Ragusa Ibla-Noto- Siracusa- Ortygia island-Catania. The traveling portion of the trip will take place on several buses that will have been rented for the exclusive use of the participants for the entire duration of the course. Additional facilities will include local guides and a photographer who will document on pictures and videos the progress along the route.
I hope to see you in Sicily in October.