Maybe you’ve already been to Rome and seen Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Maybe you’ve been to St Peter’s Basilica to see Michelangelo’s Pieta. Now you’re in Florence, and this should be a quick trip in and out of the Accademia Museum to see Michelangelo’s David, right? After all, how could it get much better here than the talented artists in Rome? Besides that, there’s a replica of the David right in the Piazza della Signoria. That’s close enough, right?
Wrong! The David is an artistic wonder. You must without question see “The David.” When you first go into the museum you kind of wander around looking at works of art pretending (at least I do anyway) you have a clue as to what you’re looking at. The art is amazing no doubt. If you’ve been to the Uffizi Gallery and the Vasari Corridor you begin to behave like an art snob in search of something greater than the ancient Medici wealth.
You turn the corner into a long cavernous room full of all sorts of sculptures with the David standing regally at the far end. It’s far enough away that you can’t get a really good look at him but you can see how utterly enormous he is. The sculpture is spectacular, amazing, incredible, breathtaking! What you really want to do is run right up like a six-year-old and stare at this awe-inspiring gift that Michelangelo has given us.
Instead you aloofly work your way down the room, like a good art connoisseur would, commenting on the lines of this sculpture here, and the date of that sculpture there. All the while keeping an eye on the David as if to make sure he’s still going to be there when you finally make it to his side. You eyeball the people around you, working on a plan of attack for the perfect spot for your viewing. They better get out of the way, you think.
When you approach Michelangelo’s David you have to tilt your head back and look up at the 17-foot-high sculpture. He is enormous! You feel like you’re the size of the biblical David and he’s the size of Goliath. You get a renewed sense of how miraculous the biblical story of David and Goliath actually is. David is encircled with Plexiglas for safekeeping, but from his torso up you can see clearly without obstruction.
Wow! That’s the expressions on the faces of everyone standing around looking at him. First you notice all the detail, the veins in the arms, the expression on his face, and the placement of his hands. Then you start to think, how on earth did Michelangelo do this?Forget the artistic ability for a moment. He had no electricity, no running water, and very few other creature comforts. This was the 1500s. You get a renewed sense of how truly talented this man Michelangelo was.
Now here’s the secret. You definitely don’t want to wait in line for hours to go to the Accademia and see the David. Make like you’re going to wait on line to get in, but keep walking straight. Across the street, on your left, is a souvenir shop, and past that is a bookstore. There’s a nondescript door just before that bookstore that leads to a little ticket office. You can buy tickets for just about every museum in Florence there. They will ask you when you would like to go and give you a ticket for that exact day and time. There’s usually no line and there is no added fee attached to the ticket price.
If you go to Italy and you haven’t seen the David then you must plan a return trip.