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Travellers in Tuscany



The David

You have heard about the dreadfully long line-ups outside the Accademia. But no one can come to Firenze and not see the David so no matter how long the line you will stay. Imagine your surprise and joy when you turn the corner and see that there is no one there . You pause for a moment and think perhaps the museum is closed today. But you remember that you checked yesterday at the hotel and it is open. You look tentatively around because this does not look like the place. You check the street name. Yes, this is the via Ricasoli. But this rather blockish and austere looking building could not possibly be the Accademia. This was not what you had imagined. You walk along the sidewalk where normally a queue would be and you notice the graffiti on the entire length of the wall up to a height of about seven feet. You stop to take a closer look.

It is covered with names and places from around the world. Most of the dates are fairly recent going back only a couple of years. They must clean this wall from time to time. You spot a name from your hometown. It is dated last year. Probably a college student you think.
You come to the entrance and walk right in. The place is empty. You pay and make your way to the main gallery. There are a few people wandering around looking at the paintings in the small galleries leading to the David. You decide to give, at least, a quick glance at the paintings. They must merit some attention if they are in the same gallery as David. You walk slowly through, reading the occasional plaque. You can feel the sense of anticipation rise in you as you see the signs indicating that the statue is near. You pass through another gallery and turn the corner. You can feel your heart jump and the magnificence of what you see startles you. You stare down the length of the approach which is wide and cordoned by a group of unfinished Michalangelo's known as the Slaves The contrast in texture and colour between the Slaves and the David add to the strength and beauty of each. These dark and rough hewed shapes forever emerging from their womb of marble lead you to the smooth and glowing and complete David.

You are alone except for two young women that are standing to the right, heads up, mouths slightly open and eyes rivitted on the face of David. It is so quiet, not even the sounds of footsteps on the stone floor. You stand straight on and look at it from bottom to top. There is a pale green glow to the marble and you look up into the dome under which the David stands and you see that there is a sophisticated lighting system which includes elements of natural light. The statue is not only impressive in size but its dramatic theme imposes itself on any space it occupies and being under that dome allows it to be seen as it was meant to be seen. It needs to be looked up to. David's gaze out towards infinity invites you to join him in his vision, a vision that from the height of his eyes is far reaching. It is his future he is looking at or at least the future in its many possibilities. Regardless of the outcome he has decided upon action and holds his sling at the ready. You wonder of the vision of the artist that conceived this incredible statement of human courage. How did Michaelangelo come to see Firenze and its destiny in that spoiled piece of marble that had lain unchallenged for twenty years? You walk around the statue. The physical perfection continues . There is a melding here of concept and execution. You stop to take a closer look at the surface of the marble feet. It is easy to imagine Michaelangelo polishing them so that no evidence of the chisel remained. Your eye follows the contour of his straight leg up to and across his chest to the opposite shoulder as if following the distribution of weight. The other leg rested lightly with toes curled on the carved rock that was the base. It was in fact a dynamic and natural pose forcing the majority of the marble's weight to be placed on the right leg.

Before you realize it forty-five minutes pass and the museum has filled up. It is time to move on. You think back to the previous day in the Piazza della Signoria and the copy and all the copies you have seen and you take one last look. No, you think. This cannot be my last look. I must return.


Text by Bryen Lebar
Picture by Sandro Santioli

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