Tourist Doctors in Venice


André J. Fabre                                               July 11,  2012 

 For all tourists coming in Italy and they have been quite many during last centuries, Venice is a must: the Serenissima captures visitors  as animals fascinate their prey

Each visitor has his own vision but all have in common a compulsive lure for  Venice  

Writers and physicians are in first line and among the huge flock of tourists and, above all, this amazing race, the  Physicians-Writers

 Les médecins touristes de Venise

 Friedrich Schiller (1759 1805)

The great German poet and playwright left from his a journey to Venice a strange Book of Dreams

All begins with an magic encounter in Café Florian with a mysterious Lady

Amazing mixture of Romantism  necromancy and  Spiritualism, all together !   

Louis Frank Louis (1761-1825) :

A defector of Bonaparte Egypt Expedition who lived in 1805 in Venice prior to emigrate in Albany

Physucian of the bey of Tunis, then of the dreadful Ali Pasha in Greece, then  of Impress Marie Louise in Vienna

 Pol-Anatole Matthieu  (1832-1902)

General Practitionner in Paris.

In 1890 he leaves Paris for a Grand Tour in Italy, Austria and  Switzerland

Venice, spur of Beauty was hit of the travel …

 Adrien Proust (1834-1903)

As specialist of Tropical diseases, Adrien came to Venice in 1897 at the International Sanitary Conference to present a repoprt on plague and cholera

From his frequent trips to Venice he got a passion for Venice. An old photography shows Adrien feeding the pigeons of San Marco

 He gave to his son Marcel his passion for Venice 

 Anton Tchekhov (1850 1904)

After his terrible expérience in 1890  of  the  Sakhalin  KZ camp Thekhov needed a cure of beauty and enchantment.

He found it the year after in Italy. Some examples :

Letter to  his brother Ivan (March 24, 1891) " I am now in Venice.   I arrived here two days ago from Vienna.  One thing I can say: I have never in my life  seen a town more marvelous than Venice It is perfectly enchanting, brilliance, joy, life.  Instead of streets and roads there are canals and instead of cabs, gondolas.  The architecture is amazing, and there is not a single spot that does not excite some historical  or artistic interest.  You float in a gondola and see the palace of the Doges, the house where Desdemona lived  and homes of great painters.  And in the churches there are sculptures and paintings such as we have never dreamed of.  In fact it is enchantment : all day from morning till night I sit in a gondola and glide along the streets,  or I saunter about the famous St. Mark's Square.  Here there is St. Mark's--something impossible to describe--the Palace of the Doges,  and other buildings which make me  feel as I do listening to part singing I feel the amazing beauty and revel in it.  And the evenings! My God! One might almost die of the strangeness of it. One goes in a gondola ... warmth, stillness, stars....  There are no horses in Venice, and so there is a silence here as in the open country.  Gondolas flit to and fro, ... then a gondola glides by, hung with lanterns. In it are a double-bass, violins, a guitar, a mandolin and cornet, two or three ladies, several men, and one hears singing and music.  They sing from operas. What voices!  A little further, a boat with singers, and the air is full, till midnight, of the mingled strains of violins and tenor voices,  and all sorts of heart-stirring sounds.  For us poor and oppressed Russians  it is easy to go out of our minds here  in a world of beauty, wealth, and freedom.  One longs to remain here for ever, and when one stands in the churches and listens to the organ  one longs to become a Catholic.  The tombs of Canova and Titian are magnificent. Here they bury great artists like kings in churches here they do not despise art as with us the churches provide a shelter for pictures and statues  however naked they may be. To-day is Sunday : there will be an orchestra playing in St. Mark's Square If you ever happen to come to Venice  it will be the best thing in your life.  You ought to see the glass here!  [Russian] bottles] are so hideous compared with the things here, that it makes one sick to think of them.  I will write again. Meanwhile… good-bye !   "

 Sigmund Freud (1856 1939)

Passionate lover for Italy, with what he called a "passiodynamic pulsion" , he wenther often between 1895 and 1913  

Letter to Martha (August  27,1895 )

"Do not expect any description of Venice, it would be impossible,  due to  our excitement to be here.  Disoriented we are, but also very happy.  I send you this view from our window  on the Riva degli Schiavoni  on a postcard headed "Casa Kirsch"  [future Hotel Metropole].  I  am not insomniac but I got up this morning very early to admire  the magnificent view of S. Maria della Salute and San Giorgio Maggiore  Letter to Martha August 27 11895 My precious darling We agreed that you won't get many detailed descriptions. The trance which Venice puts everyone into makes it impossible.  We are enormously well and spend all day walking,  cruising, gazing,  eating, and drinking Every morning to the Lido, twenty minutes, to bathe in the sea, the most delicious sand underfoot.  Yesterday was cool and the sea rather rough, today has started hot Yesterday we also went up the tower of St. Mark's, strolled from the Rialto through the town, which allows one to see the strangest things,  visited a church, Frari, and the Scuola S. Rocco,  enjoyed a surfeit of Tintorettos, Titians, and Canovas,  went four times to the Café Quadri on the piazza,  wrote letters, entered into negotiations about some purchases,  and the two days seem like six months.  Zanzare definitely exist...   Needless to say, I am already very anxious to hear your news  

 Leon Daudet (1867-1942)

Son of Alphonse Daudet, the most celebrated writer of "Belle époque" , Leon Daudet, brilliant physician and "homme de lettres", had a disappointing souvenir from a family trip to Venice.

A fatal dish of vonghole  brought him a severe typhoid

Many years later , he had a magnificent experience of Venice at Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, now the Casino ; "The best reading to be done at sunset, when Grand Canthe best reading is "Lovers of Venice" of Charles Maurras in which the great politician poured the best of his lyrical powers Each time I open the book, I hear the nostalgic call of the gondolieri, I get in my nose the scent of Venice, a smell of spices, shells  and stagnant water in the canals,  I can see again the lapping waves over the marble steps  of venerable Venetian  mansions.  where lived Richard Wagner, where lived Richard Wagner,  But never , I mean not a single minute, have I the least thought for Byron or Chateaubriand, even if I keep a keen taste for the "Memoirs from Beyond the Grave" and the metaphorical power of the lame of Missolonghi.  None of them can remind me of Venice. Explain me that...  Even more : nothing for me is so much abroad Venice than Ruskin and his "Stones of Venice". Dear unbearable Ruskin; all his life,  he kept tormenting the marbles of Venice to demonstrate his esthetic theories. The truth, I believe, is that Art begins with a spontaneous emotion,  and not an intellectual analysis…  During our stay in Venice, we lived in an old palace converted in hotel, the Palazzon Vendramin Calergi [in our times Casino of Venic]).  There lived Richard Wagner. However, none of his heroes,  neither Brangoine nor Kurwenaal came ever tickle my feet,

  Louis Ferdinand Celine (1895-1861)

"Of diet ??? That kind of thing is fashionable nowadays. Such a study, properly handled and ingeniously dragged out, is sure to be favorably received by the Academy, since the majority of its members are old men to whom these problems of heating and hemorrhoids can hardly be indifferent.  Don't you think the Academy might vote me one of its hygiene awards?

Why not?  Ten thousand francs? Not bad . . .  Enough for a trip to Venice . . . Yes, my young friend, I was in Venice once as a young man ... Oh yes! You can starve there just as well as anywhere else . . .  But you breathe a sumptuous aroma of death that's not easy to forget . . ." From "Journey to the End of the Night"

You could think you hear Goethe's Mephistopheles "Ich bin der Geist, der stets verneint..." (the one who ever says no")

 Arthur Schnitzler (1862 1931)

Son of a falmed physician, successfull writer in the Vienna " schöne Epoche "

He had developped from his searches on Casanova, archetype  of Italian seducers  a passion for Venice

Until the day in 1928 when his beloved daughter fille Lilli committed suicide in Venice  

 Nicole Bru physician, pharmacist and billionaire

Sponsor of the renovation  of Palazzo Zane in Venice

The Palazzo hab been built n 1697 by Baldassare Longhena

Now Center of Classical French Music

 Doctors of Venitian tourists

 Francesco Aglietti (1757 1836)

Private physician of lord byron  and brillant Physician  of Venice  

Man of high culture he held over 10.000 book in his own library

Private physician of Lord Byron and his dear Marquesa  Teresa Guiccioli  

 John William Polidori (1796-1821)

In 1816, Polidori, coming from a family of brilliant artists,  becomes personal physician of Lord Byron  and tours Europe staying a long time in Venice

 In Geneva they lived at  the Villa "Belle Rivene" near Lake Leman There they met  two English poets; Mary and Percy Shelley,  her husband.

One night, Byron suggested t o write  ghost stories Frankenstein for Mary Shelley  and the  Vampyre  for Polidori who is the real ancestor of the "Terror literature".  

 Axel Munthe 1857-1949

The Wandering Physician of Europe Paris, London and Rome lived in Capri

There, in 1891, Axel met  Princess Victoria future queen of Sweden, coming in Italy for a  Health cure

Axel and Victoria had many interests in common and In 1893 spent together a Weekend-end in Venice

 Venitian Doctors and Tourists

 Fabrizio Ramacciotti  and Diana Stainer

Fabrizzio Rammacciotti,  Venitian Psychiatrist  stated ooften to be fully aware of a strange epidemy of suicides among tourists   in  Venice

 Venice, idéal setting for New Âge suicides ? Diana Stainer, Psychiatrist at  Ospedale Civile recently made in The Times  a review of 25 cases  of the so-called "Venise suicide epidemy".

All finished up in hospital, some nursing broken bones, others recovering from overdoses and slashed wrists, most had jumped into the canals. Most cases involved single middle-aged females aged about 40 years old, although one was 18.  

European tourists were mostly concerned :England, France, Germany, Spain but several "suicidees" came rrom United States. There were no cases involving Italian citizens.

Dr Stainer's  conclusions "Venice is linked in the collective imagination to images of decline and decadence, people are constantly made aware that Venice is itself in its death throes,  deserted by the Venetians themselves,  who are moving out before the city sinks

 Graziella Magherini ( 1949-  )

"Beware : Art is dangerous"

From Dr Magherini studies,  foreign visitors are often  stricken "at heart" by the sumptuous beauty of Art and fall victims of a psychosomatic episode  with choking fits and near death feeling  

Between 1980 and 1990, 106 cases have been reported, mostly middle aged  single women, traveling without escort  Some individuals are apparently immunized as tourists coming from USA and Asia, and also from… Italy  

Stendhal in 1817, had experience this syndrome:  "I had reached  this extrême level of emotio  s where the celestial feelings brought by Fine Arts . Stepping off from the Basilica  of Santa Croce, I had wild heart beats, life  was leaking out, I could not walk..."  

Most celebrated référence to this "Art that kills" remains the "little patch  of yellow wall" from Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu    Bergotte, an elderly writer,  visits a Dutch art exhibit and dies in front   of Vermeer's  View of Delft  In fact, Two or perhaps three areas are usually taken into consideration


 Tourists think they see  Venice   but Venice for them is just some sort of    Disneyland The physician  gets from his clinical practice a third eye  allowing him to see what the others  could not perceive

Date de dernière mise à jour : 01/08/2013

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