For many people, a visit to Florence, Italy is not complete without a glimpse of Michelangelo’s masterpiece and Goliath’s nemesis, David. The marble statue of the heroic biblical figure that stands some 5.17-metres-high (17 ft) has commanded the awe of tourists and art historians for centuries. As such, it feels like some kind of cultural sacrilege not to make the painless pilgrimage to pay homage to Florence’s most famous naked man!
Confessions of a Cultural Sinner
The truth is, however, that on my first visit to Florence when I was 20 years old I managed to miss David altogether. My tight inter-rail schedule didn’t take into account that museums in Italy don’t open on Mondays! With no room to maneuver dates, I had to be content with the replica that stands outside the Palazzo della Signoria where the original once stood.
Where Were You When…?
Missing out on David wasn’t the only tragedy to befall my first experience of Florence. Far outweighing my disappointment was news that Princess Diana had died in a car accident in Paris. It was 31st August 1997. I distinctly remember an Italian man calling to my friend and me as we walked towards the impressive Duomo. He was shouting “Diana, Diana!” Having had already spent two weeks in Italy, we first assumed he was trying to flirt with us — my friend had short blonde hair.
Worth the Wait
Fast-forward almost 21 years, and I was back in Florence to scout out some amazing places to stay for Tripwix. While my schedule was once again full to the brim inspecting luxury villas in Tuscany, this time there was no way I was going to miss David.
Still not organised enough to have actually booked my tickets on-line, I risked the wait and headed to the Museo Galleria dell’Accademia where David poses. It was April, so the line wasn’t as long as usual. Meanwhile, everyone who had pre-booked breezed on through.
Just before I began to melt beneath the Tuscan sun, a handsome young twenty-something from Alberta, Canada called out to see if there were any lone tourists needing a ticket. And so it was, 21 years later, I was visiting David for free!
Museo Galleria dell’Accademia
The Museo Galleria dell’Accademia where David takes pride of place is pretty small and easy to navigate in under an hour if you have a tight schedule. Among fine examples of Renaissance and Byzantine paintings, you will find half-finished marble sculptures by Michelangelo, where his subjects seem to want to break free from their marble prisons.
Meanwhile, the sound of expert guides and art historians twittering in all languages reminded me there is much more than meets the eye to the contents of this museum. Who knew that the size of David’s genitalia reflects the cultural values at the time?
Face to Face with David in Florence, Italy
OK, so I was not quiet face to face with David. He stands atop an earthquake-proof plinth. Interestingly, David’s proportions are crafted in such a way that he is meant to be seen from below. Not only is he three-time the size of the average man standing at 5.17-metres (17 ft), the upper part of this body and head are relatively bigger than than the lower parts so that when you look up at him, he looks perfectly proportioned.
Originally, he was intended to join a series of statues that were to feature on Florence’s Duomo but was considered far to beautiful to be left exposed to the elements.
Despite taking 21 years to see David in Florence, Italy, I have to admit he was certainly worth the wait. I would highly recommend visiting Florence when booking a stay at any of the Tripwix villas in Tuscany and Umbria. We can help you arrange a fabulous guided tour so that you don’t miss David like I did on my first visit.