Michelangelo’s David: More Than Meets The Eye

As someone who lived in Florence for a number of years and lead countless students, tours, friends, and family to see Michelangelo’s David, I have been asked a variety of questions regarding this famous statue. Did Michelangelo model him after the real David? What was David’s last name? Why is his…ahem, you-know-what, so small? Why does he have a mullet? And, finally, the question that forever changed how I thought about the David…What makes him so important and special? The context surrounding this question, posed to me by a 16 year-old student on a study abroad program I was working for, may help set the scene.
It was a scorching day in the middle of July and it was my first time visiting the Accademia with a group of students…60 or so. Between the blazing heat, suffocating humidity, disgruntled teenagers, throngs of anxious tourists, and a “reservation line” that wrapped around the building, the experience was less than ideal to say the least.

The line at the Accademia can be scary.


As we were making our way through the entrance, Olivia – the sweet 16 year-old girl with a heart of gold and zero interest in art history – came to me with her question…What makes the David so special, so important? She quickly told me that she meant no disrespect and genuinely wanted to know why. I took a moment to look around and take in the hundreds and hundreds of people – tired and sweaty, yet eagerly waiting their turn to finally see Michelangelo’s famed David and knew it was a fair question to ask. So, I did my best to explain to her why I thought the David was special enough and important enough for countless visitors from around the world to include “him” on their must-see list while in Italy. I mean…the David is arguably the most famous statue by the most famous artist in the world and many people do not even know why. Well, without further adieu, here are just few of the countless reasons why… Continue reading…

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The Other Side of Rome

Been to Rome before? Seen this, done that? Well…maybe you have and maybe you haven’t. Here are some of my favorite off-the-beaten-path things to see/do that are not always an easy walk down one of Rome’s breathtaking cobble-stone streets. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth every ounce of effort to see. Maybe you need to go back. Hopefully, it will be with Select Study Abroad. Continue reading…

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The Bust of Cosimo I and Ben Affleck

Cellini's Bust of Cosimo I

Above all, Florence is a city of sculpture. Although certain works get more press than others (*cough*…*cough*…the David), the city houses some of the finest Renaissance marble and bronze works around. One of the greatest pieces (in this writer’s humble opinion) is a three foot tall bronze bust of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, created by the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini between 1545-1547. Now I know what you’re thinking: busts sound boring. But this thing is really something to behold. It sits in the bottom floor of the Bargello, tucked in a corner where few even notice it. For those who do, something particular captures their attention: a presence seen in few Renaissance works. Continue reading…

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Florentine cultural heritage November 2010

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. Continue reading…

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Things to do PART I: churches, monasteries, museums & gardens

How can I even begin to list all of wonderful art-related things to see in Florence? It is believed to be the city with the largest concentration of famous art in the world!! I mean the place is literally packed to the brim with beautiful objects. And if you are like me, you want to see all them.

Over the many years I have lived in Italy I STILL have not seen them all…but I think I got pretty close. Below is a list of my favorite places to see in Florence that are churches, monasteries, museums, or gardens. This list is really geared towards those of you who do not have a month so I am leaving some really amazing things off this list simply in interest of time. Later I will write a post about all those amazing things I recommend seeing if you do have the time, or if it is your second or third trip to this great city. At the very least, this will help you pick the best things to see for your FIRST trip to Florence (and then some!). Continue reading…

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