Lessons from the Road #9: Florence

Lesson #9:  Don’t be greedy. Enjoy the things you can, and be willing to adapt to circumstances.

Ah, Florence! For me, a place of joy and disappointment.

I have dreamed of seeing Michelangelo’s David in person in Florence ever since I first learned about the statue and saw pictures of it. I have memories of sitting in a classroom—don’t ask me which class or how old I was—and watching a black and white film talking about the statue and showing it from different angles. Snippets of the film became so integrated into my memory that I’ve sometimes wondered if I actually walked around a copy of the sculpture at some point. The opportunity to make the dream of seeing the David a reality filled me with excitement.

I have now seen the David in person in Florence, and he is every bit as beautiful and impressive as I’d imagined. I am still blown away by the fact that Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he created the piece. (And, yes, he was only 33 when he painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling.)

The size of the piece alone is impressive. The statue stands 17 feet tall, and when I stood next to it, my eyes were about at the level of David’s toes. Then, of course, there’s just the incredible detail. One of the friends who came to the Accademia with me is a massage therapist, and as we walked around the statue, she was naming all the muscles. I couldn’t name them; I was just impressed with how clearly delineated they are—and how fleshly and pliable they look. He’s marble, but he looks so real.

David_von_Michelangelo

Photo by Rico Heil, from Wikimedia

Well, okay, yeah, his hands are huge. But they’re gorgeous. I find the entire sculpture incredibly beautiful, but I admit I’ve got a thing for David’s right hand. The tendons, the veins, the knuckles…

David_von_Michelangelo - Hand

Michelangelo believed his task as a sculptor was to reveal what was there in the marble by chipping away the pieces that were unnecessary. I can’t even imagine looking at a piece of marble and seeing something like the David inside it.

The David is located at the end of a gallery holding several other unfinished Michelangelo sculptures, pieces intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II. Those pieces look as if they are indeed emerging from the marble, being birthed from the stone. They are powerful in their unfinishedness.

Seeing the David was a joy—and my primary reason for going to Florence—and it was the definite high point of the day. For various reasons, the rest of the trip was largely disappointing. I got to see the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and Brunelleschi’s Dome,…

Florence Duomo Florence Duomo 2 Florence Duomo Statuary Florence Inside Dome Florence Dome - 3 dimensional

but otherwise I saw very little of Florence, because of our limited amount of time there.

A delicious dinner with friends back in Ramazzano at L’Antico Casale made up for some of the disappointment.

I had to remind myself that it’s not possible to do or see everything. And what I did see was incredible. Thank you, Michelangelo!

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