View of Florence at sunset
What is it with me that whenever I watch a documentary of Italy, I weep? We have visited twice and have been to a handful of the large cities, including Florence above, and, when there, I'm almost always on the verge of tears!
I read about "Stendhal syndrome" a few years back, an illness given this name back in 1979 and named after French author Henri-Marie Beyle. Stendhal was one of his many pseudonyms.
Bridges over the Arno River, Florence
The following from Wikipedia:
"Stendhal syndrome, Stendhal's syndrome, hyperkulturemia, or Florence syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world.
The illness is named after the famous 19th-century French author Stendhal, (pseudonym of Henri-Marie Beyle), who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio.
Although there are many descriptions of people becoming dizzy and fainting while taking in Florentine art, especially at the Uffizi, dating from the early 19th century on, the syndrome was only named in 1979, when it was described by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini, who observed and described more than 100 similar cases among tourists and visitors in Florence."
Head of a Capri Girl
John Singer Sargent, 1878
The rose stood out
Red against the golden wall
The sun comes up through the silken drapes
The room begins to glow
All in cream-colored ivories and soft yellows
You say hello
Put down that guitar and handed me a rose
At the end of the Italian Summer
It rains fast and it rains hard
The wind blows through you
It tears you apart
Ooh it's so romantic
Hey it's so soulful
The rain falls down
And the thunder rolls
The sun fades out
And the mountains grow tall
The mists rush in and they take it all
From the islands you see Li Galli and Capri
I remember it all
Love was everywhere
You just had to fall
View of Capri, 1845
Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky
Li Galli is an archipelago of islands off the Amalfi Coast,
the three main ones being Gallo Lungo, La Castellucia and La Rotonda.
In the late 1960s Rudolph Nureyev bought Gallo Lungo for 3 billion Italian lira and resided in the villa built in the 1930s by Russian choreographer and dancer Leonide Massine. Nureyev lived there for 26 years until his death.
We love Italy and are planning another trip in 2012, ending with a train trip to Paris, where I'll probably experience Paris syndrome, apparently the French equivalent of Stendhal syndrome!
"Something happens in Italy:
people cross into
new emotional fields."
Lisa St Aubin de Téran