Florence Syndrome in Venice

Grand Canal – 9 July 2016

It was late afternoon when we reached Venice. Despite my son’s fervent advice, we got around the “Gritti or Danieli “ dilemma by choosing the latter,closer to Piazza San Marco.

With the check-in routine done, it was time for “Mission: Discovery “. The moment I set my eyes on the piazza, I was so moved I was petrified. Gripped by a powerful emotion, I grasped my husband’s arm, unable to speak, unable to walk… I was mesmerized!! I was suddenly like one of the multiple columns that frame the piazza.

No city has ever had such an impact on me. There was something special in the air, the esthetics of the piazza? Its history? A combination of both?…I felt it strongly and I’m certain I embarrassed the hubby, clinging on to him in the center of the quasi-empty piazza for a good couple of minutes.

I only realized the next day, once I saw it swarming with legions of tourists – mostly disembarking from the cruise ships – how fortunate I was to discover it the day before…

Hidden under layers of visitors, it was a different Piazza, there was a different energy… no “special moment” material… Truly how lucky was I yesterday for being in the right place at the right time!!

I recently read an article which explained the emotions I felt in the Piazza that day … it is common between tourists, and has a name: Stendhal syndrome!“Stendhal’s syndrome, hyperkulturemia, or Florence syndrome is a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to an experience of great personal significance, particularly viewing art. It is not listed as a recognised condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.The illness is associated with the French author Stendhal who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence. It was only named in 1979, when the Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini observed more than 100 similar cases among tourists and visitors in Florence”

Although psychiatrists have long debated whether it really exists, its effects on some sufferers are serious enough for them to require treatment in hospital. The staff at Florence’s Santa Maria Nuova Hospital are accustomed to dealing with tourists suffering from dizzy spells and disorientation after admiring the statue of David, the masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery and other treasures of the Tuscan city.


Outside Peggy Guggenheim Collection – 10 July 2016


From the Castello – 9 July 2016


San Marco – 9 July 2016


From the Castello – 9 July 2016


San Polo – 9 July 2016


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