It was Florentine Cultural heritage week this past Novemebr (12th-20th) and people weren’t messing around. The star of the show was a replica of Michelangelo’s David (made of a mixture of fiberglass and marble dust) which was placed on top of the Duomo (see photo) to recreate the statue’s originally intended home. That’s right. When Michelangelo first put chisel to marble he thought he was making a work that would be one of many to adorn the base of the domes of Florence’s (already very well-decorated) cathedral. However, when Mike was finally done, the finished product was so beautiful they simply could not relocate it to that hard-to-see spot so far off the ground. So they got a group of important Florentines together –including Leonardo da Vinci– to discuss where the statue should be placed.Many locations were suggested and in the end the placement in front of the main door of the Palazzo Vecchio won out. The really remarkable thing about the whole process was how little Michelangelo was involved. Once he was paid the work was the city’s property. The decision of where his work would be displayed was not up to him. I always wonder if that bothered him, especially considering how much effort when into distorting certain parts of David’s body to appear more natural from far below.
During Florentine Cultural heritage week this copy was not only placed in the original location but also in several other locations that were being considered at the time, including within the archway of the Loggia dei Lanzi (where Cellini’s Perseus now stands).In addition to fun with this mobile David, the city has also covered the entire area outside the Duomo and Baptistery in grass! I cannot even imagine what an odd site that must be. At one side they have also planted an elm tree which is meant to recall the miracle of Saint Zenobi, a tale I know you are all intimately familiar with (wink wink). In this legend the body of the saint (also the first Bishop of Florence) was being taken to his final resting place in the Cathedral and as it passed a dead elm the tree miraculously bloomed into life. A classic miracle, really.
The whole event sounded amazing and I was sick to miss it. You can kind of get an idea for what the David would have looked like up on the Duomo and the feel of the city before it was paved and tree-less. But alas, it is always better to go and SEE with your own two eye. Maybe next year.