Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I've got a touch of Stendhal syndrome!

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

Italian Summer

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

Stevie Nicks

View of Capri, 1845
Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky

Li Galli - The Roosters

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

13 comments:

akissfromthepast said...

wow. Florence is wonderful! :D i love the place too! been there once :D

Delwyn said...

Florence is overwhelming...I think I could live there for months to take it all in.
We also stayed a week in Ishcia an island down near Carpri known for its spas...and then there was Tuscany and Rome...
you've brought back many memories...

RNSANE said...

I've never had the luxury of lengthy stays in Italy, just short visits on cruises...beginning with a couple of days each time in Rome, overnights and two days in Venice with each cruise and a week once in Milan and regions near there. I love the places I've seen and, of course, would love to win the lottery and really do Italy in style. I love any place with scenery, art, history.

I found myself so much enjoying my day in Lucca that I went back a second time. I think I could easily spend a week there.

The other place I love and have spent many days is Barcelona.

alaine@éclectique said...

akissfromthepast...amazing, unforgettable!

alaine@éclectique said...

Delwyn...we've talked about living somewhere over there for a couple of months...dearly love to. Ah, Tuscany, living in a walled city but, if I had my "druthers", it would be in a large city. And Rome; we spent only 4 days there and would love another week...or two!

alaine@éclectique said...

rnsane...Carmen, you and I can thank whoever that we've had just a little taste of it! Ah, yes, the lottery...there wouldn't be much change left if I won it!

I've heard so much about Barcelona lately; it has become quite a popular destination...I'll buy a lotto ticket this week!

RNSANE said...

Hey, if you win, spare $50,000 or so for me and I promise I'll do the same for you!

RNSANE said...

Hey, if you win, spare $50,000 or so for me and I promise I'll do the same for you!

RNSANE said...

Hey, if you win, spare $50,000 or so for me and I promise I'll do the same for you!

RNSANE said...

Hey, if you win, spare $50,000 or so for me and I promise I'll do the same for you!

RNSANE said...

Hey, if you win, spare $50,000 or so for me and I promise I'll do the same for you!

gésbi said...

Such a beautiful and funny post! I'm afraid I've got it too. Can't get enough of Italy; we spent 2 weeks on the Amalfi coast in July. Sigh.
I can't get enough of France either though I've been here over 20 years.
Maybe we'll get a chance to say hello when you pass through Paris!

Pierre BOYER said...

Lovely...

Pierre