A view of Florence. Image by Andrea Spallanzani from Pixabay
In 1979 Stendhal syndrome was first diagnosed in Florence. An Italian psychiatrist defined the disorder after treating over 100 cases among visitors to Florence. A psychosomatic disorder, the syndrome causes confusion, dizziness, fainting, increased heart rate and even hallucinations. What causes such a malady? Exposure to art, especially a large amount of it gathered in one place. It can also occur when a person is exposed to the immense beauty of the natural world.
Stendhal was a French writer who described his experience after visiting Florence in 1817. He visited the Basilica of Santa Croce, where Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Galileo are buried. Upon seeing the ceiling frescoes for the first time, he was overcome with emotion. 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…. “
Florence, known as Firenze in Italy, is considered to be the cradle of the Renaissance. The capital of Tuscany, it was here that many of history’s most famous artists created their works and some of the art world’s greatest masterpieces were born. Works by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci and of course, Michelangelo, may be found throughout the city. Visits to Florence for appreciation of its artistic treasures should include time at both the Uffizi Gallery and the Academia Gallery.
Tuscan cuisine tips its hat to the area’s agricultural bounty. Bistecca alla fiorentina, or ‘beefsteak Florentine style’, ranks first among steak lovers at the #1 T-Bone steak.  Simple pleasures, such as fresh-baked bread slathered in the local olive oil are truly enjoyable. Florence has outstanding wines. The deep red wine, Chianti Classico, is the pride of the region.
Any journey to Tuscany should include a trip to Florence. We get dizzy ourselves while visiting Florence, taking in all the beauty and wonder of the magical city. However, we’ve yet to have anyone need psychiatric care! 
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