Last year I was in the middle of a private tour of Florence inside the Palatine Gallery and suddenly one of my guests, a sweet lady interrupted me telling me that she didn’t feel that well. I helped her sit down and I ran to get a bottle of water from the bar downstairs. She felt like everything was spinning around, all the paintings on the walls were twisting and she felt like she couldn’t breathe.
The first thing that came into my mind was the Stendhal syndrome, I couldn’t believe it was happening during one of my tours in Florence, but I was pretty sure that the lady got overwhelmed by the rich and beautiful paintings on the walls.
The Stendhal or the Florence syndrome hits about 100 tourists a year who are not used to visit so many museums or to see so many beautiful churches in just some days. The brain gets overloaded with beauty and the person hit simply has to stay outside, take some fresh air and eventually have a walk in a garden rather than an art gallery.
The name of the syndrome was given by a French writer, Stendhal, who visited Florence in the 1800. While he was admiring the ceiling of the Niccolini Chapel inside the Santa Croce Church, he got hit by the syndrome and after this experience in Florence, he wrote in one of his books:
“As I emerged from the porch of Santa Croce, I was seized with a fierce palpitation of the heart; the wellspring of life was dried up within me, and I walked in constant fear of falling to the ground,”
The staff from Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence noticed that people visiting Michelangelo’s David, the Uffizi Gallery and some other artistic treasures in Florence are the ones who suffer of dizziness and disorientation.
Despite the Florence syndrome, a tour of the Uffizi Gallery with a private tour guide of Florence or a guided visit of the Accademia Gallery is the perfect way to really understand and appreciate the Renaissance.