A psychosomatic response–tachycardia, vertigo, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when a person is exposed to large amounts of, art, history, or culture in a single place–e.g., Florence (Italy), which has a high concentration of classic works; the response can also occur when a person is overwhelmed by breathtaking natural beauty.
The response was described in 1817, by Frenchman Marie-Henri Beyle, a novelist who wrote under the
nom de plume of Stendhal, when he visited Florence and was overwhelmed by its rich legacy of art and history–e.g., Santa Croce–where Machiavelli, Michelangelo, and Galileo are buried, the Uffizi, Giotto’s ceiling frescoes “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…I had palpitations of the heart, what in Berlin they call ‘nerves’. Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling.'” Stendhal Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggi. Those who have been to Florence understand.
Synonyms Florence syndrome, hyperculturaemia, Hyperkulturämie, Jerusalem syndrome, Stendhal’s syndrome, tourist disease