Florence, or Firenze, as it is called in Italy, is an ancient city filled with some of the world’s most beautiful art. It was the stomping grounds of, to name a few, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Dante Alighieri (though after they banished Dante, they had the nerve to be angry when Ravenna claimed his body for their Famous Dead Person.) It is also hot, crowded, loud and dusty. When you disembark from the Santa Maria Novella Train Station, (The SMN,) you will feel as if THIS was Alighieri’s inspiration for a Circle of Hell. However, don’t plan a trip to Italy without stopping here. The home turf of the Medici family, their mark is evident throughout the city. Their faces grace the arch in the doorway in the front hall of the Uffizi. In fact, the Uffizi, was their family offices. Outside, The David stands guard. Wait for it……
IT IS THE FAKE DAVID. This is one of the first things you need to know. It breaks my heart every time when people tell me how they posed in front of it, and blah blah blah. Oh dear. It puts me at an emotional crux. Do I tell them? So, listen up people, I’m telling you now.
The real David, the one that Michelangelo created, really DID used to stand in this space. He was moved in 1873 and now, he is the main attraction at the Accademia Museum on the other side of town. Traveling to Italy is a lot of time and money and you want to do it right. It’s like when someone has food on their teeth….do you tell them or do you let them go on their merry way with spinach on an incisor? It’s the same thing with David. Once you tell them you’ve forever destroyed their belief that they saw The Real One. (It also doesn’t help that they kind of think you’re a meanie for telling them.)
Make sure you see the real one. I mean it when I say he will literally take your breath away. It is an entirely unexpected, holy experience. The fact that he’s a 17 foot naked man has nothing to do with it. Really. It is an unforgettable moment. This leads me to my second thing to know. DO NOT TAKE HIS PICTURE. Even if you are a shameless hussy and are not embarrassed by the security guards screaming, “Va via! Ferma!” (Go away! Stop!) the wall of humanity surrounding you will be mortified. Please people. Follow the rules. His picture is for sale in the gift shop. Buy one there.
In Florence, the two main museums are the Academia, and the Uffizi. Please, please take heed of all the tourist advice and book your tickets ahead of time. You will save yourself hours of time and when you see those lines, your heart will sink. I don’t want you to have to compromise on what you’re willing to wait for to see. The David is right on the other side of that wall, but if you do not have reservations, it could take all day to meet him. I mean it. Book your tickets ahead of time. Yet, here’s another thing you need to know. If you call them, be prepared for the phone bill when it arrives. To me, it’s worth the $30.00 phone call.
On another aside, go and see the reproduction in the Piazza della Signoria. It was placed there in 1910 and it gives you a true feeling for what this city was like when this biblical underdog was positioned to glare in the direction of the Goliath of Rome.
Time is precious, especially when you are in Italy. Let’s face it, we may never come back this way again. I want you to have memories stored up in your heart and mind that will make you smile, and not wince at an honest planning mistake. Florence is overwhelming on a good day. Trying to organize your thoughts amid the heat and the people is almost impossible. The more planning you do ahead of time, the better the experience will be.