The Accademia Gallery in Florence is a must for art enthusiasts. The iconic Michelangelo’s David is at the centre of a fascinating collection of sculptures and 14th-16th paintings that are well worth the long queue. You’ll see the greats like Filippo Lippi, Botticelli and a splendid collection of Florentine Gothic work.
The Accademia is one of Florence’s top attractions. As with every popular, crowded museum a guided visit is a good idea. A knowledgable guide will make your experience that much more memorable, otherwise opt for one of their informative audio guides. Our advice? Choose a few things to see properly rather than trying to see it all. Book a guided tour in advance and avoid queuing. Or go very early in the morning, before opening time.
Michelangelo’s work at the Accademia:
THE STATUE OF DAVID
Many believe that no other artwork can compete with the greatness of the David. The statue was a symbol of Michelangelo’s genius and of Florence itself, a city proud of its inheritance and achievements. It’s a grand and expressive statue whose magnetic appeal hasn’t diminished with the passing years.
HALL OF THE PRISONERS
Michelangelo is undoubtedly the king of the show here, and standing face to face with some of his “unfinished” statues reveals a lot about his work.
Michelangelo famously said his aim was to “free” the sculptures that were already inhabiting the marble, and when you see his “Slaves” ( Prigioni ), a series of unfinished sculptures in the Hall of the Prisoners, you get an idea of what he meant.
The “Awakening Slave” for example, looks like he’s trying to liberate himself from the constrictions of the stone, while “Atlas” seems to be pushing the heavy weight of the world from his shoulders, his head painfully buried under it.
Paintings by Fra’ Bartolomeo, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto are placed alongside the Hall of the Prisoners to witness an era of extraordinary artistic achievements.
Other Medieval and Renaissance masterpieces:
HALL OF COLOSSUS
In the Hall of Colossus, there’s a plaster cast model by Giambologna of the sculpture visible in Piazza Signoria “Rape of the Sabines“. This Mannerist artist was inspired by Michelangelo and developed a style that was at once elegantly classical and very elaborate.
In the same room there is, among other things, the XV century paintings Botticelli’s Madonna of the Sea and the intriguing Cassone Adimari – the front of a wedding chest depicting a nuptial feast in the1450s.
A collection of Florentine Gothic paintings is hosted in the last section of the Gallery on the ground floor. Amongst the richly golden pieces, notice the fascinatingly complex “Tree of Life” by Pacino di Bonaguida. This is a complex symbolic painting representing the divine plan for redemption: the pelican on the top of the cross is en emblem of Christ’s sacrifice that will save humanity.
Amongst the works of Giotto, don’t miss the elegant Coronation of the Virgin with splendidly conveyed details.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT COLLECTION
If you’re interested in what the Medici would have listened to, there’s a Grand Ducal collection of forty musical instruments, including a precious Stradivari viola (1690) with a Medici crest. The collection shows how music played a part in the official celebrations of the Medicean Court. It includes a piano invented by Cristofori for Cosimo III’s court around 1699.
Booking in advance for the Accademia:
When you book the ticket in advance you can do it through the Galleria dell’Accademia official website (16 euro) . You pay beforehand, and once you’ve booked your ticket, you cannot make any changes to date/time. Go to the museum half an hour before the reserved time to pick up your entrance ticket.
If you decide to join a tour, there are some that combine a walking tour of the city’s historic centre with a guided visit of the Accademia: this Renaissance Florence Guided Tour allows you to skip the line and have a professional guide illustrate the masterpieces of the Accademia Gallery.
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Statue of David – Photo credit: @twalmedia on Pixabay