Meeting Michelangelo’s David in Florence

“Is it a masterpiece or just some guy with his pants down?”

– Kent Brockman

That line from The Simpsons wasn’t what I was thinking while waiting in line at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. I was looking forward to seeing Michelangelo’s masterpiece.

After waking up early and getting in a rather short line as soon as the Uffizi Gallery opened at 8:15, I decided to head back toward my hostel to check out the line at Accademia. It was also not too long — I waited in the shade for 40 minutes. It would have been shorter, but advance tickets take precedence over those schmucks who just wander up to the museum to pay their 11 euros.

accademia florence
The first view of David among the crowd

David is an incredible work of art, especially after learning that the marble was considered inferior quality at the time and Michelangelo was the only artist who wanted the job. The statue also doesn’t show his age after standing outside for more than 200 years.

Michelangelo David
Someone give that guy some pants

David is the centerpiece of Galleria dell’Accademia, which doesn’t house much else. The hallway leading up to the statue is lined with Michelangelo’s “Prisoners,” the unfinished sculptures that were supposed to be housed at Il Duomo di Firenze with David atop the dome. The prisoners are in different stages of development and provide viewers an image of men trying to escape from the stone (though that was not Michelangelo’s intention; he just wasn’t able to finish them all).

Michelangelo bearded prisoner
One of Michelangelo’s Prisoners

After years of studying art before heading off to college, I was excited to see so much art in Florence. There are details that are missed in books.

As a friend had mentioned before my trip, the most impressive feature of David is his hands. She was correct. David’s hands are huge, and they have more detail than I realized. While the sculpture is beautifully smooth, Michelangelo added pulsing veins on his right hand — the veins are even present in the neck. It stands out among the smooth marble.

Michelangelo david
The details of David’s hand

While David’s hands are his most impressive feature, Italian tourism likes to focus on another feature. At every turn, the vendors sell close-up postcards of his penis (even one with sunglasses on it). Hey, you can even buy shorts with his penis superimposed over an Italian flag. They’re obsessed with it. If I was going to open a cafe in Florence, I’d probably call it David’s Doodle (shut up, Flanders) and serve plenty of suggestive-shaped food. If you decide to steal this idea, please just give me credit.

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