David and the new Goliath

Of all the ideas put forth to save Florence from itself, the plan announced this week by Mayor Leonardo Domenici to move Michelangelo’s David from the historic centre of the city to the suburbs in order to ease crowding has to be the most foolish.

David’s current home in the Accademia Gallery, next door to the art school, the Academy of Fine Arts, is perfect. There is easy access for tourists by foot; most hotels are a mere fifteen-minute walk away. No fewer than ten city bus lines stop in nearby San Marco, a one-minute walk.

I often saw the lineups for David, stretching down Via Ricasoli as far as Via Degli Alfani, but they hardly constitute crowding except for that one sidewalk and there was always easy passage on the other side of the street. The numbers are nothing like at the Uffizi, where five times as many people wait for much longer. What will the mayor suggest next? Move Ponte Vecchio? Even the retreating Germans left that beauteous bridge intact.

David has already suffered enough indignities from a recent toxic cleaning. I can see him now, girding his marble loins, for the next battle against this new foe. Or are the mayor’s musings no more than some savvy marketing ploy to raise the city’s profile as consumers consider whether – or even if – they will travel abroad this summer?

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