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Developing David

Florence TourOn September 8, 1504, in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Michelangelo unveiled one of the most recognizable contributions to the Italian Renaissance, David. Though the 17 foot statue took three years for Michelangelo to complete, its conception began well before the famed painter and sculptor began working on it.

In the 15th century, overseers of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Florence Duomo, set forth a plan to commission a series of artists to sculpt representations of notable figures of the Old Testament, intended to decorate the exterior of the Duomo. Donatello lent his talents to sculpt Joshua, and his contemporary and probable student, Agostino di Duccio, later produced an interpretation of Hercules to complement the Duomo. In 1464, Agostino was once again selected to provide another sculpture, this time of David, the biblical hero and king who defeated Goliath. Agostino was provided with a 19 foot slab of marble, and after three years and minimal progress, the artist abandoned the project, unfinished. Ten years later, Antonio Rossellino began a short-lived attempt at completing the sculpture, but he was quickly decommissioned.

The slab of marble was neglected, and left exposed to the elements for over 25 years, until the council of overseers determined that David must be completed, artfully and successfully. They elected 26 year-old, Michelangelo, for the task and on September 13, 1501, the young artist officially got to work.

Travel Italy, Travel Florence

In early 1504, when the statue was nearing completion, it became obvious to Florentine officials that it would impossible to place the 17 foot high, 6 ton sculpture anywhere on the buttresses of the Duomo. Another committee formed to decide the proper place in Florence to feature David. After considering nine locations throughout the city, the committee ultimately decided that David would rest in the Palazzo della Signora (modern-day Palazzo Vecchio). After a four day, half-mile procession, David was eventually displayed in the Palazzo della Signora, on September 8. The sculpture remained in the public plaza until 1873 when it was moved to Galleria dell’Accademia, where it could be better protected from natural wear.

The Duomo’s overseers never saw a true fruition of their plan to adorn the Duomo with 12 figures of the Old Testament. However, after almost a century in the making, the concept ultimately yielded one of the finest and most recognized pieces of art to come out of the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo’s 17 foot tall, marble sculpture of David.

Join VBT on our Tuscan Coast or Tuscan Hill Towns by Bike vacations and experience one of Michelangelo’s most celebrated works of art for yourself.

Regatta Storica

Since its establishment, over 1500 years ago, the city of Venice has been predominantly shaped and influenced by its waterways. Comprised of 117 small islands, Venice has relied on its famed canals for transportation, and it has looked to the surrounding seas for trade and prosperity. It is therefore only appropriate that Venice’s longest-standing tradition commemorates the city’s paramount feature – the water.

Every year, on the first Sunday in September, the Regatta Storica takes place along Venice’s Grand Canal. Initially organized to applaud Venice’s political and military prowess, the event dates back to at least the 14th Century. It is speculated, however, that the Regatta has even deeper roots in Venetian history.

The Regatta Storica’s modern function has little to do with politics, but still remains as a celebration of the “City of Bridges’” cultural history. The event begins with a water parade, as the illustrious Bissone and Bucintoro boats lead a procession of the Venetian rowing clubs, adorned in historic attire, along the Grand Canal. As the ceremonial procession comes to a close, the competitive portion of the Regatta begins. A series of preliminary races takes place, leading up to the climax of the Storica Regatta, the Regata dei Campionissimi su Gondolini.

The event’s most celebrated challenge, the Regata dei Campionissimi su Gondolini, features two gondolini, light bodied boats propelled by oarsmen, in competition for la Machina, the floating stage that represents the finish line. While the Regatta’s previous races are focused on a display of power, the Regata dei Campionissimi su Gondolini is an illustration of technical rowing ability, and is thus, the crowd’s favorite event. The awards ceremony takes place in front of la Machina, in the heart of city, where all winners are rewarded with red flags, and a lasting piece of Venetian history.

Venice’s water-faring tradition extends well beyond the Storica Regatta. Check back on our Blog for the history behind Venice’s most famed vessel, the Gondola. We’ll have details about the boat’s conception as well as information about the trying processes of becoming a Gondolier.

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