Florence & the Statue of David - Trent

Florence Travel Blog

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"Gates of Paradise" - Florence, Italy

I spoke too soon in my last entry about everything running smoothly and never really feeling rushed.  As you now know Venice was a scramble, then on Wednesday (June 23, 2009) we ran into train delays.  A   late train and then a 1+ hour delay (sitting on the tracks) cost us a midday tour of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  However, we did make the afternoon tour of the Accademia where you find the works of Michelangelo that includes the Statue of David.

After checking into the hotel in Florence and then grabbing a quick pizza we headed off on our guided tour of the Accademia.  We had purchased our guided tour package in advance and it included tickets into the museum.  We have found the purchase of guided tours to be the best way to do museums and monuments for a couple of reasons.

Statue of David - Florence, Italy
  Most importantly you get to by bypass all lines (Lines in Europe can be a nightmare!) and secondly these guided tours are normally very informative and interesting.  Keeping teenagers interested and attentive on subjects of art and history is “proof in the pudding!”  Anyway the uncompleted “Prisoners” done by Michelangelo were very impressive.  The emerging body (sculpture) in each statue looked as if it were trying to escape its original block of marble.  It is said the Michelangelo believed his statues were already within the block of marble and it was his job to extract the image. 

The Statue of David was simply awesome!  Even to the untrained eyes of the 4 of us the detail in this sculpture was captivating.  The best example of this (in our opinion) was the detail of the veins in the right hand and the lack of veins in the left hand.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore - Florence, Italy
  If you were to dangle your right hand below your waist you will clearly see the veins running along the back of your hand.  At the same time if you were to place your left hand up near your shoulder as if you were going to throw a dart, you would not see the veins in this hand only the ligament/tendons attached to knuckles.  Try it!  Michelangelo was able to capture this subtlety in so much detail you could follow the veins from the right hand up through the arm and see the ligaments/tendons connected to the knuckle of the left hand. 

One interesting note about Michelangelo’s technique was the lack of a full scale plaster model.  Most artists of the time used full scale (the Statue of David stands 14’ tall) plaster models to deal with size and proportion when working with marble.  Michelangelo did not use this method.

Duomo - Florence, Italy
  Instead he would completely submerse an 18 to 24 inch model in water.  Each day or every few days he would remove a centimeter or two of water from the container.  What emerged from the water that day is what Michelangelo chiseled from his block of marble.  Anyway, enough of the art history! 

Florence was one of our quicker stops and much like Venice we could have used another day at this stop.  We did find that Florence had the best gelato of the trip and it wasn’t a fluke.  As it turns out Florence is known for gelato (Italian Ice-cream).  Most appropriately you can see Sam with a bit of paradise in his hand as he and Ali stand for a picture in front of the sculpture “Gates of Paradise”.

Up next…  “All roads lead to Rome.”

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Gates of Paradise - Florence, It…
"Gates of Paradise" - Florence, I…
Statue of David - Florence, Italy
Statue of David - Florence, Italy
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore …
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore…
Duomo - Florence, Italy
Duomo - Florence, Italy
photo by: monky