Florence, Italy: Accademia, Michelangelo’s Unlikely David, and the Fourth Stomach of a Cow

The David

The Unforgettable David

It is a moment I will never forget – a moment that lasted more than an hour because I found it difficult to tear myself away. I could have stayed all day just drinking in the details. To think of the artistry and craftsmanship it took to carve the veins in his neck and hands, the wisps of curls, and the curve of his lips and eyelids…leaves me in awe. Michelangelo’s David is, for me, the most exquisite piece of art in existence. I was so moved by this unlikely 5,560 kg solid marble statue, carved from one single block of Carrara marble, that I thought, I could gouge my eyes out and be happy to never look upon another thing. He is that stunning.

Quick facts

  • Michelangelo was 26 years old when he began carving David
  • David is 500+ years old (1501-1504)
  • David is 517 cm tall

Recommended Reading

An excellent read about the life and work of Michelangelo is The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. I highly recommend this biographical novel for anyone interested in Michelangelo or Renaissance Italy. In the following excerpt, Michelangelo struggles to draw up plans for the statue:

He and his Giant-David block were alone…All he knew for sure was that his was to be the David he had rediscovered, that he would use the opportunity to create all of the poetry, the beauty, the mystery and the inherent drama of the male body, the archetype and essence of correlated forms (336).

In the final months of his work on David, Michelangelo began polishing the statue. Through Stone’s writing, we are taken inside the mind of Michelangelo as he thinks about what he wants to achieve as he polishes. He seeks “….a David quivering with emotion, the cords in his neck pulled taut by the head turned hard to Goliath, yet withal knowing that to live is to act” (358). I believe he achieves this and more.

Florence, Italy and the Cow’s 4th Stomach

While a visit to The Galleria dell’Accademia to see David is a must, Florence has much to offer tourists, from culinary adventures like the famous lamprettodo sandwich (4th stomach of a cow/tripe) to architectural treats like the magnificent Duomo, where you can climb to the top of the cupola.

While many say you shouldn’t leave Florence without trying the tripe sandwich, I have to be honest, I couldn’t get it down, and I’m adventurous when it comes to trying different foods. I’ve enjoyed grasshoppers in Mexico, duck brains in China, and live baby octopus in Korea, but I barely managed to force myself to take a bite of this Florentine specialty because the smell was so horrible. Sadly, the taste and texture were no better. While I got mine at Da’Vinattieri based on reviews (It’s not far from the Duomo and other people seem to love it!), perhaps you’ll have better luck elsewhere. I, for one, am unlikely to ever try it again.

Art History Lecturer

While gazing at David in the Accademia Gallery, we overheard a captivating lecturer that we were so impressed by that we found out who he was through a combination of stalking him and the university students who were there studying with him and then asking one of them who he was. Said student confirmed what an amazing art history professor he is. Not much for history lectures, we were enthralled with Rocky Ruggiero‘s ability to bring history to life – so much so that I joined his mailing list in hopes of attending one of his lectures. We did just that in Boca Raton, Florida, and he did not disappoint. He excels at making art history accessible and interesting in his Cultural Programs for the Arts. He has lecture programs in Venice, Rome, Florence, and more. They are a bit out of my price range, but he also gives lectures in both Italy and the U.S. that are a bit more budget friendly. If I ever have a chance to catch Rocky again, I definitely plan to. While tickets aren’t available yet, Rocky’s latest email included a save the date on August 23 from 6-8pm at Eataly Boston. I so wish I were going to be there for it.

Tour Guide and Tours

Having loved Inferno and pretty much all of Dan Brown’s books, we decided to splurge on the Florence Inferno Tour. Our guide was Cecilia, and she was perfect. It was wonderful to see Florence through the eyes of such a passionate and knowledgeable guide. I absolutely recommend her if you go to Florence. You can find a bit of information on ABCD Tours of Tuscany, but parts of the site were being updated the last time I checked. Cecilia can be reached via email at [email protected] or check out her tours at ABCD Tours of Tuscany on TripAdvisor. Say hello to her from Trey!

English Bookstore in Florence

Not far from the Duomo is Paperback Exchange, a great little independent English language bookshop that’s been in operation since 1979. As the name implies, they welcome trade-ins. While many people have switched to Kindle for their travel reading, I still love the feel of a real book in my hands, so places like this are a find when traveling!

Ready to plan a trip to Italy? Airbnb is my choice of accommodation for a more authentic stay.

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This post was inspired by the Daily Post photo challenge: “Unlikely” and is the second in a photo series based on the 49 countries I’ve checked off my bucket list. The first was Seoul, South Korea: Buddha Lines, Festivals, and Hiking. The third is It’s a Secret, New Zealand: My Place in the World

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