A day in Florence and first on my list: The famous Michelangelo´s marble statue of the biblical hero David. It is my first visit to the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. Our Contiki leader handed us a map, a few instructions and then we were off exploring this incredible and historical city.
I must admit I did not know a lot about the city. I knew they had good wine in Florence and I knew about the David Statue. But sadly nothing more. I was very excited to be able to explore it.
The statue is housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia. We did not have a long wait and we soon found out why. The statue was under repairs. This meant it was covered completely and we couldn´t see it. It was just my luck that the David statue turned 500 years when we visited in 2004 and they had decided to clean it properly. I didn´t know if I should laugh or cry. Ok, I must admit 500 years is a big deal but did they have to do it now?
It turned out that huge controversy surrounded the cleaning of the David Statue. Cleaning started back in September 2002 and was almost done by the time we arrived. It was the first cleaning undertaken since he was moved to the museum in 1873. David was carved in 1504 and spent the first 350 years outdoors in Florence´s Piazza della Signoria.
With tails between our legs, we left the Galleria dell´Accademia and had a look at a replica of the statue in the original location in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Not quite the same but at least I got to see what it must have looked like 350 years ago.
Interesting facts about the David Statue:
1. A vandal attacked the statue in 1991 with a hammer, damaging toes on the left foot.
2. Scholars had major concerns when the cleaning project started but it seemed to be unfounded.
3. One of the most replicated statues in the world.
4. His proportions aren´t as realistic. The head and upper region of the body are larger than the lower parts of the body. The hands are also disproportionately large. This was defended by experts saying that if he was situated high on a church or building, it would have looked accurate.
5. There is also some controversy because the statue David is not circumcised as the real life king would have been.
6. When you look closely at the statue you will see that David is preparing for the battle with Goliath. His body is tense and veins are bulging in his hand. His body is twisted and ready for action.
7. It took Michelangelo three years to sculpt this masterpiece.
8. Michelangelo was not the original sculptor. Di Duccio shaped the legs, feet and figure. He also did some drapery work when he left the project (possibly due to the death of Donatello). Antonio Rossellino took over the sculpting work but he was essentially fired.
9. The chunk of marble was left untouched in a workshop for 25 years before Michelangelo was contracted to complete the project!
Where: Florence, Italy.
When: 6 April 2004