Stendhal’s syndrome


Siena  The Duomo (by Martin Jacobs)
Siena The Duomo (by Martin Jacobs)

Do you know the Stendhal’s syndrome? It is a kind of illness that seems to be due to the emotions that can result from overexposure to art and the famous Tuscan artistic works, to the excitement in front of the beauty of landscapes or architecture…

This syndrome, characterized by faster heartbeat, vertigo, a sense of confusion, appears in many travelers visiting Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, or discovering the sublime landscapes of Tuscany, such as the Creti Senese or the Chianti hills, all sites around Villa le Barone.

Stendhal described, in his book “Rome, Naples and Florence” (published in 1826), his state of intense emotion as he was leaving the Florentine basilica of Santa Croce, the cathedral where are buried Machiavelli, Galileo, Michelangelo. He wrote: “I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty… I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations… Everything spoke so vividly to my soul. Ah, if I could only forget. I had palpitations of the heart, Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling”.

Florence Sunset on the Arno river
Florence Sunset on the Arno river

It would seem, however, that the Stendhal’s syndrome is not only psychological. It is also linked to the fatigue inherent in the many visits, sometimes in full heat, made by travelers who want to “see everything” in one day or two. A change of diet, the absorption of wine, the need to make constant efforts (visiting museums without sitting down) would also be factors that could aggravate the manifestations felt by some travelers.

Nevertheless, one can also note the emotion of Villa le Barone’s guests when they discover the magnificent view from our gardens on the Tuscan landscape, the Chianti hills and the Romanesque church of San Leolino. This is also reflected in their comments in our Golden Book: “awesome beauty” are words coming back again and again!