Hidden treasures

Stendhal or Florence Syndrome

Did you know that...

Stendhal or Florence Syndrome

Some of you might have heard about the ‘Stendhal Syndrome', but it isn’t as well known that it is also called 'Florence Syndrome'...and do you know why? Read on to find out more!

Stendhal Syndrome is a condition that affects those exposed to works of art of incredible beauty in confined spaces and causes dizziness and even hallucinations. This happens especially before the beauty of many works of art kept in Florentine museums. At the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, at least once a month, foreign patients are struck by this ailment, which only affects those gifted with a higher level of sensitivity.

The name of this syndrome comes from the French writer 'Stendhal' – born Marie-Henry Beyle - who during his ‘Grand Tour’ (the 19th-century tour for Europe’s young aristocratic intellectuals) in 1817, also stopped in Florence. Once in front of the wonderful Basilica of Santa Croce, he was hit by a total confusing state. In his travel diary, which later became a famous book titled 'Rome, Naples and Florence', Stendhal perfectly describes the sensations and perceptions of those dramatic moments.

Only in 1979 was the scientific formulation of the syndrome explained, thanks to the studies of psychiatrist Graziella Magherini who studied and analyzed more than one hundred suspicious episodes. The first recognized case of 'Stendhal Syndrome' was diagnosed in 1982.

An interesting fact: why are almost all of the victims foreign? The answer is that Italians are immune to this disorder because of 'habituation to culture’, or because they are used to admiring the artistic wonders of their country.

This pathology is so incredible that director Dario Argento, an undisputed thriller master, turned it into the plot of his famous film released in 1996 and entitled 'The Stendhal Syndrome' where the main protagonist experiences the Stendhal Syndrome in front of Bruegel's 'Fall of Icaro' painting inside the Uffizi Gallery.

But this is not the only film shot in the magnificent 'Renaissance Pearl' ... do you want to know others? Well, all you have to do is taking part in our private tour 'Florence in the Cinema: discovering the locations of Italian and foreign films'... we are waiting for you!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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