(guest post written by the lovely nora)
for our weekend in florence, ludi surprised us with an early christmas treat – a guided tour of the accademia di belle arti which houses the original sculpture of david’s michelangelo. of course, the accademia not only holds michelangelo’s imposing sculpture, but also many of his other works such as the prisoners/slaves or many typical florentine paintings of the 14th and 15th centuries. the museum is on the smaller side, but has plenty to provide you with a wonderful cultural evasion for an hour of two.
while we were really excited about the tour, we managed to be late. i blame this on the delicious café which was on our way and managed to distract us in our journey. i will skip over the details of our gasping arrival in the museum and the search for our guide, who we finally found after initially following the wrong group. his name was antonio: mid-fifties, medium height, grey hair, and with glasses that he often took on and off when speaking. as any good italian, he was wearing eccentric colourful trousers, perfect sized jumper, and a red scarf. he asked where we were from and smiled at our responses – brussels, london and paris – what a mix, he must have thought!
he accepted our apologies with a nod and introduced us to the rest of the group as if nothing had happened. i was a bit worried he’d already done the part on david, but luckily, he was just about to start the michelangelo section of the tour. (they’d only done the musical instruments section…) he asked us to follow him and started talking eloquently in English with a hint of an Italian accent about michelangelo’s prisoners (the unfinished statues) and then various works representing la pieta.
then, finally, he introduced us to david. it was rather difficult to miss this 5 meter, naked, marble man in the middle of the room. this stately representation of david was proper to michelangelo who saw in him as powerful and beautiful defender of freedom, political metaphor of the florentine republic. i, on the other hand, had found another interpretation.
there is something quite astonishing in thinking how an art piece can generate in you and the other people looking at it something undefined, yet palpable. while walking around david, ludi and laura, almost at the same time, and with complete seriousness, said that he reminded them of their respective husbands. this was rather funny at first (because i have met their husbands…) then i realised that what michelangelo had achieved, here, was more than he would have imagined: he had created the image of absolute love. what they saw in this majestic, handsome and strong statue was the person they loved. of course! it suddenly made sense: david, who portrayed the stability and strength of a republic, also represented the person who was stability and strength in their life. whether love is for your country, your ideology, or another person, david was it’s allegory. i looked around me, and indeed, many people were gazing at him in a way you look at a familiar one.
we laughed and left the room before finishing the tour and going on to continue our florentine adventure. i left the museum smiling while thinking about my interpretation of david…
the great david
and the rest of our florentine adventures,
consisting heavily of:
and cured meats.