A busy day today and I’m now just back from dinner. Another steak (Bistecca alla Fiorentina). The steak was great, though the accompaniments of last night’s meal were better. Still enjoyed it. Also had a bottle of something Tuscan and red, I forget what it was (not Chianti). Was lovely though.
We saw a lot today. But the highlight could only ever be Michelangelo’s statue of David. Universally acknowledged to be the single most important sculpture ever to exist in Western art, he came into being 505 years ago, taking several years to carve. And he is breathtaking. In his beauty. In the attention to detail that he exhibits. In his representation as the absolute and total elevation of the male body to the highest art form imaginable. He is devastating to experience and to witness.
And the pictures absolutely do NOT do him justice compared with seeing him in the flesh.
For me, seeing David was like seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in the Musee de Louvre, in Paris, as a child all those years ago. It took my breath away. Sure, the picture itself is small and locked behind reinforced bullet-proof glass. But knowing you are in the presence of the original, of something so unique, so special. The buzz of anticipation and excitement around you. There is nothing else in the world quite like that feeling. And seeing David today was like that.
Five metres tall and carved from marble. He stood outside in the elements for 350 years before finally being moved to a purpose built (and quite perfect) building in Florence’s Accademia. It’s wonderful – a big domed ceiling letting natural light fall down on him. He’s surrounded by a 5 foot glass wall – but you can walk all around. Just watching the other people there, mouths agog, looking up at him. Seeing the veins on his arms, the tendons in his legs, the amazing attention to detail in his… *cough*. He is both mature – yet young, dominant and yet submissive, and the pupils of his eyes are carved in what look like heart-shapes. Seeing David for the first time will take your breath away. Easily the highlight of my time in Florence and something I’d wanted to experience for a long, long time.
As well as David we went to the church and museum of San Marco, then the Spedala degli Innocenti (the orphanage of the innocents) in the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata. Later in the afternoon we visited the Cappelle Medicee (the mausoluem of the Medicee family who ruled Tuscany for much of the Renaissance period). We did do some other stuff but that Tuscan red wine is playing havoc with my memory which really only has room for one thing; David.
PS You’re not technically allowed to take pictures of David but I sneaked a few shots of him anyway.