Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stendahl Syndrome, or just crazy?

If ever I had a chance to experience Stendhal syndrome, this weekend should have provoked it.

From Wikipedia: "Stendhal syndrome, hyperkulturemia, or Florence syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place. The illness is named after the famous 19th century French author Stendhal, who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy."

This weekend the state museums and gardens are free, so I made a schedule to see as many of them as possible: the Uffizi (famous paintings and a Caravaggio exhibit), the Palazzo Pitti and Palatina Galleria (famous paintings, more Caravaggio, and the rooms where the Medici lived), the il Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens, the vast gardens of the Medici behind Palazzo Pitti.)
and the Porcelain Museum,

the Bargello (famous sculptures and other items),

and l'Accademia (where Michelangelo's David is). I'm hoping to see some more Sunday after the 5km walk across town, if possible. So far it's saved me about 50 euros.

As for the Caravaggio exhibit, though there were some Caravaggio paintings, most of the paintings were by cohorts of Caravaggio, called Caravaggeschi. One happy surprise was the inclusion at the Uffizi exhibit of seven paintings by Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few women painters from that era, and a favorite of mine.

I also went to another annual festivity today. The Bacco Artigianato Carro Matto is the traditional post-harvest ceremony of blessing and offering of wine to Florence's gentry by Tuscan farmers. The officials from the town of Ruffina bring their wine to be blessed in Piazza della Signoria. It was another procession through town, in medieval costume, with a carriage containing @500 casks of Chianti wine.

The "Carro Matto" is a work of exceptional skill in construction. The pot-bellied glass containers, covered with straw, are stacked and interwoven with straw and natural ligaments to restrain one another. This ingenious system allowed the wagon to transport large quantities of wine from the countryside to the city. Pretty cool. I was able to buy one of the wine casks (1 liter) for 6 euros....now I need someone to share it with!

And at the end of the day, another rainbow (view from my bedroom window)!

Well, I didn't have time for fainting or hallucinations...but I came away with very tired legs and feet, and I still have the Corri la vita (5km walk) ahead of me tomorrow!

For more photos of the day, click here: Musei

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