Are you available to be amazed?

A contemporary updating of #StendhalSyndrome

A French writer Stendhal, who died on this day in 1842, is forever linked to Florence due to the strange emotions he experienced when he first visited the church of Santa Croce, one cold winter day in 1817.

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When you look up the Wikipedia definition of Stendhal syndrome, you find out that it also goes under the name of Florence syndrome, after the city where it most often manifests itself. So, as publisher and director of The Florentine, it seemed only proper that I would experience the syndrome, as Stendhal did, in one of the most vibrant hubs of “Florentine-ness”: Santa Croce.

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The Italian entry in the aforementioned encyclopedia of collective intelligence carries on by saying that the syndrome reveals itself as “…a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is faced with work of art of extraordinary beauty, especially in restricted spaces”.

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I experienced every single one of the symptoms stated in the definition, yet out of my stunned state I realized that another fundamental factor needed to be added, a updating of the definition: a person’s availability to be amazed. Today, we live a life of saturated individuality, almost inert to world events; every day, the fact that we are inundated by myriad stimuli via social media and modern society has turned us into emotional slowcoaches. Tragedies shock us for five minutes; drama becomes conversation; beauty is taken for granted. Being available is allowing yourself some space you’ve not yet covered, leaving a breach in the bark and letting yourself be touched (beyond touchscreen technology!).

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I discovered my own availability – on one October morning. I have never acted like someone who has already seen it all and I have never taken beauty for granted. I fully enjoyed the privilege of feeling art and I allowed myself to be inundated, that fall morning, without defense.

Guest blogger (words and photos): Marco Badiani

Marco Badiani, co-founder of The Florentine and art director of Flod / photographer by choice, always has a traveler’s mindset set to “on” – even on a local level, along the streets he walks every day. Marco is for ever curious in his work and photographs with a discoverer’s eye.


One thought on “Are you available to be amazed?

  1. This is a syndrome we are happy to have to “deal” with in Florence! Even for someone who has lived or even grown up in the city risks being amazed every day!

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