On December 26th, I saw Michelangelo’s David.
My palms were sweating as we went through security at the Academy. Not because I was trying to sneak any prohibited items into the museum, but because I felt like I was about to meet a celebrity.
As soon as we were in the museum, I couldn’t resist going straight to David. After seeing so many images of him in pop culture, I was worried that I wouldn’t be impressed by the real thing. As I approached this famous statue, all my anxiety dissipated.
I couldn’t believe that something so beautiful was carved out of a piece of marble. The pose is so perfect and natural. He is calmly assessing his enemy, prepared to use his intellect to take out the giant Goliath. (Jesse and I had a debate about whether the statue is showing Daivd before or after killing Goliath, and I maintain that it is before.)
He is frozen in one pose for eternity, but I could imagine him coming to life and slinging his stone at any moment.
The details on his hands and his muscles are just amazing. The veins on his arms and hands seem as if they really have blood flowing through them.
The years in which Michelangelo carved David were turbulent ones for the city. When he was unveiled, Florentines immediately recognized David as a symbol of their republic. He has been an honored citizen of Florence ever since. The Accademy was built in the nineteenth century solely to house this treasured sculpture.
We paid €50 each for the Florence card, a three day pass giving us free admission to almost every museum in the city as well as unlimited use of public transportation. I felt like I got my money’s worth after seeing just one sculpture.
After gawking at David for fifteen or twenty minutes, Jesse and I did view the rest of the art in the museum.
Next, we climbed Giotto’s bell tower at Santa Maria del Fiore. The bell tower has more steps than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so it was quite a climb. Also, no one monitored when you could go up or down, so there were traffic jams on the narrow staircase. This definitely pushed the limits of my tolerance for confined spaces, and I am in no hurry to do it again any time soon, although the view at the top was great.
After that, we went to the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s town hall. Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, decided to move in for awhile in the 1500s, before the Medicis built the Pitti Palace on the other side of the Arno. The museum shows the various apartments that were designed for his family.
From the Palazzo Vecchio, we headed to the Strozzi, another museum housed in the former palace of a powerful Florentine family. The exhibit was about the relationship between banking, politics, and art in Renaissance Florence. It was designed to tell a story, and it succeeded in placing the great pieces of art in the context of the time in which they were created.
When we finished with our third museum of the day, the sun was setting, and we snapped several pictures by the Arno. The white shapes seem to be a protective covering for the olive trees in the street.
We met our friends/fellow CETP teachers for dinner that evening. For some beautiful pictures of Florence, please peruse their blogs: