After taking the train from Verona to Florence we would be staying at an apartment near the central station on a quiet back street. Florence, a city of almost 400,000 people is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region. It is famous as a treasure chest of Renaissance art.
While in Florence we had a packed agenda of places to visit. The top of our list was of course the Galleria dell'Accademia home of Michelangelo's sculpture David, It did not disappoint. The main halls at the Accademia also offer visitors works by great Italian artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Allessando Allori, and Orcagna.
For the memory is selective and it is easier to remember what one wants to remember, so if I have to chose between the splendour and the miseries, I will chose the moments of happiness in spite of the fact that there are few situations in which men and women are completely happy and completely free.Eric Newby
The Galleria dell’Accademia was established in the 18th century as a teaching facility for students of the adjacent Academy of Fine Arts, founded in 1784
Originally commissioned by the Opera del Duomo for the Cathedral of Florence, the statue of David was meant to be one of a series of large statues to be positioned in the niches of the cathedral’s tribunes, about 80m from the ground.
Michelangelo, then only 26 years old worked constantly for over two years to create one of his most breathtaking masterpieces. In January 1504, his 17 foot tall David was unveiled only for all who saw it on that day agreed that it was far too perfect to be placed up high in the Cathedral,
“When all was finished, it cannot be denied that this work has carried off the palm from all other statues, modern or ancient, Greek or Latin; no other artwork is equal to it in any respect, with such just proportion, beauty and excellence did Michelagnolo finish it”.
After much debate, the statue would be placed in the political heart of Florence, the Piazza della Signoria.
“It was midnight, May 14th, and the Giant was taken out of the workshop. They even had to tear down the archway, so huge he was. Forty men were pushing the large wooden cart where David stood protected by ropes, sliding it through town on trunks. The Giant eventually got to Signoria Square on June 8th 1504”.
It remained in front of Palazzo della Signoria until 1873 when it was moved into the Galleria dell’Accademia to protect it from damage and further weathering.
In 1784, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Peter Leopold, converted the friary hospital of San Matthew into a gallery, the Gipsoteca Bartolini where students in the adjoining Accademia delle Belle Arti could study a selection of the finest 19th-century plaster casts by Lorenzo Bartolini, one of the great sculptors and brilliant professors of the Academy.
Galleria degli Uffizi
After the ruling house of Medici died out, their art collections were gifted to the city of Florence under the famous Patto di famiglia. The Uffizi is one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the general public.
Inside the gallery, there is an octagonal room known as the Tribune. It was realized between 1581 and 1583 by architect Bernardo Buontalenti “to keep jewels and embellishments of the Grand Duke”, Francesco I de’ Medici. According to the concept of a museum in that period, the Tribune did not just display works of art, such as sculptures and paintings, but also extraordinary natural items, including precious stones. The structure is octagonal because according to Christian tradition eight is the number that draws near Heaven.