On my first visit to Florence a few years ago, I rushed into the Accademia Gallery with one purpose in mind, to see the original marble sculpture of David by Michelangelo. I quickly found my way to the hall where the famous statue was on display and made my way through the crowds, spent a short time there, and left after I accomplished my goal. No photos were allowed.
Fast forward to 2015 and I was in Florence again, this time with my friend Patty. It was her first visit and neither of us wanted to spend all day in a museum, nor wait in long lines. But I did want to see David again. But we got in line in the middle of the afternoon and were told that it would be about an hour.
Luck was on our side that day, because an eager young Italian man who worked as a guide for the Accademia Gallery in Florence, approached those of us in line. He was offering to provide a guided 45-minute tour inside the museum right now to those of us who spoke English and wanted to pay €35. Patty and I were on the same page when we decided that this was a win-win. The admission cost alone was going to be €13 and we got to skip the line, so we volunteered.
He ushered us inside and we joined a group of five others. The experience turned out to be not only fun but educational as well. I learned quite a bit that day about the Accademia that I never knew.
The first hall he showed us was the Hall of the Colossus.
The main attraction included the plaster cast of the famous sculpture by Giambologna, titled Rape of the Sabines. What is so incredible is the entire sculpture was created using a single block of marble. The original marble sculpture can be viewed in Piazza della Signoria.
Originally established in the eighteenth century as a teaching facility for art students, the Accademia today still exists with that agenda. Another hall we saw included unfinished sculptures from Michelangelo. Aptly named, this is called the Hall of the Prisoners.
What was completely new information for me was to discover that inside the Accademia was a Museum of Musical Instruments.
An original viola made by Stradivari was of particular interest as was an original piano.
One entire hall called the Tuscany Room is filled with sculptures and paintings from former students.
Original plaster models by former professor and sculptor Bartolini also line the shelves here.
The final stop on our tour stop was the hall where the 17-foot high sculpture of David was displayed.
Only earlier this year were the rules changed and we now were allowed to photograph this stunning piece of art. I am always amazed at the detail of the human body including veins in this masterpiece. And Michelangelo was not even thirty years old when he completed this.
Worth the money and time, this was a great way to spend an hour in Florence. I am sure art aficionados would want to spend much more time and enjoy the paintings by Botticelli, Perugino, and other Renaissance artists.
You can also purchase tickets in advance to avoid the lines. We chose not to to do this, because we didn’t want to be tied to a schedule.
While I like to wander on my own, a guided tour here was definitely a good idea and totally worth the added cost. I would highly recommend one.
Have you been to Florence? What was your experience when seeing Michelangelo’s David for the first time? I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment to add to the conversation.
That’s great you can take pics now. I snuck one years ago and played the I don’t speak English card when I got yelled at. I look Italian enough right? 😄
It’s always a pleasure reading about people’s experiences of our city.
I have just published a page about the Loggia dei Lanzi on our website that I hope your readers will enjoy, not least because it has some fabulous photos of the sculptures you can see on display.
Here is the page
Great photography and history to go with the pics. Very nice page. Thanks for sending the link.
It’s a pleasure!
My sister and I were there 7 years ago this week. Love the David, it is beyond words really. My favorites, however; are the unfinished works of Michelangelo that line the corridor. I wanted to help the men get free. You can almost hear them struggling to do so. Loved everything I saw there! Can’t wait to get back one day!
When I walked into the hall sixteen years ago and saw the David ahead of me, tears ran down my face. I couldn’t believe I was actually seeing this magnificent sculpture, which I first saw as a “slide” in my art history course at Florida State. I will never forget that moment.
I totally get that emotion Lora. I felt that way and still do every time I see Michelangelo’s Pieta at St Peter’s in the Vatican.
Un po' di pepe
Loved reading about David! The block of marble he was carved from was known as “il Gigante’ because it weighte over 6,000 kilos. It was considered useless and sat in the Firenze works yard for over 25 years after 2 other sculptors messed it up and left a big gaping hole right through it. Sorry to ramble on-I’m a bit of a Michelangelo fan and wrote a whole (very long) post about David. The way they moved him into L’Accademia is fascinating. Ratto delle Sabine will be moved into the Uffizi soon, so i’ll have to go see it again before they move it! Ciao, Cristina
Ciao and grazie Cristina for the details. I didn’t know the block of marble had a name. I would love to read more. Can you post a link to your Michelangelo post? I’m sure my blog readers would also enjoy it.
Un po' di pepe
Ciao Margie. Here is the link to ‘Il Gigante’, my very first blog post: http://unpodipepe.ca/2014/04/27/il-gigante-michelangelos-david/
Ciao Margie – what a great and timely post.
We bought tickets for an afternoon entry, but not a tour. We’ll just have to wing it on our own.
Good to know that photos are allowed.
You still may be able to trade in your tickets for the guided tour of you are interested in that. Glad you are going to see this amazing place!! Thank you for leaving a comment here
Hi Margie, nice post. I was in Accademia last year and it is only when I came back that I learned that there was a museum of music instruments within the galleria. Somehow, I missed the entrance. I was traveling alone and my husband was very disappointed as he is making violins and viola as a hobby. He would have loved to see the stradivari. I am wondering if you have taken a picture of the violin. If so, would you be kind enough to send a copy to me, if this is not a problem for you? firstname.lastname@example.org
Grazie. I appeeciate your kind comments. I did take a photo and will be happy to email it to you but it was not totally in focus so I did not include it here. I will send it shortly. Happy to connect with you and I hope you and your husband have an opportunity to feturn and see it first-hand!
Che bella!! How appropriate as I will be in Florence in 3 weeks on a bike tour of the Tuscan hills. Your photos do great job of conveying the atmosphere and the beauty of the Academia. I hope to have an afternoon and morning to explore Firenze before heading to Sienna. Caio.
I am glad you enjoyed the photos here. I am happy for you that you will be back in Italia soon. Quite adventurous cycling the Tuscan hills! Have a fantastic time and I hope you do post photos!
Really loved this post Margie…I remember standing in front of David as well, wondering how in the world could someone chisel something so precise and exact out of a block of marble. Loved the tour through the museum.
Grazie Susan. Michelangelo’s sculptures are such works of art that I could never tire of seeing them over and over.
A great post and some fabulous art! David gives me tingles but the Rape of the Sabine Women is still my favourite! Thanks for the ping back!! :o)
Thank you so much. Your post was amazing and fit perfectly here!
Isn’t it incredible how places you could just walk into a few years ago in visiting Italy have now long queues.
I think it also depends upon the time of day and the season, Francis. Florence did seem much more crowded to me this vist. Possible the EXPO 2015 may be impacting the numbers of visitors in other cities of Italy.
The thing that always got me about David is that the marble was nearly a cast off due to the narrowness of one area and the necessity to make something that would fit into it. He was looking to put a full sized man in that piece of marble and no one thought he could do it. He put David’s knees at the narrow point because it was wide enough at the base to allow the foot to be properly positioned. I have never understood how these people look at a piece of marble, walk around it, SEE the statue that must be in there and “just knock off all the parts that don’t belong.” I personally think they do it with magic!
Thank you Bonnie. You are absolutely right. Michelangelo was offered this project after another sculptor has started working with this piece of marble. Incredible to say the least. Read more details here…http://www.italianrenaissance.org/michelangelos-david/
Loved the article. What I didn’t know was how young Michelangelo was. I suppose when you have a gift for something you demonstrate it all your life. Regardless of age.