In one of the longest lines you’re likely to encounter in Italy, the wait to see this art museum, and its undisputed star, Michelangelo’s David, will be equally impressive.
And for good reason, David is arguably the most famous piece of artwork to come out of the Renaissance and is probably the most recognizable sculpture in the world. Begun in 1501, the 5.17 meter (17 foot) statue was proudly placed by a flourishing and powerful Florence in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria in 1504 – where a copy now stands.
David was moved to the Accademia in 1873 after, among other indignities, being struck by lightning (1512), attacked by rioters resulting in a broken arm (1527) and an ill-considered acid wash (1843). David suffered further damage in 1991, when a crazed artist took a hammer to the toes on his left foot.
Though everything else pales in comparison, the gallery additionally contains a wealth of paintings and sculptures, including other works Michelangelo, namely the unfinished San Matteo (1503) and the four-piece Prigioni (‘prisoners’; 1530).
Fair warning: the day I visited, for whatever reason, the ticket office was demanding exact change from everyone, so bring small notes and coins for good luck.