Centuries ago, the bubonic plague, otherwise known as the Black Death,
swept through Europe, killing one-third of the continent’s population at the
time. Originating in Asia, the disease made its way to Italy during the late
Middle Ages, and spread north from there.
Thus, the “wine windows,” or buchette del vino, of Tuscany. Pint-size
hatches, carved into the concrete walls of urban wineries and shops, where
beverage merchants would serve sips at a safe social distance. People could
knock on the little wooden shutters and have their bottles filled direct from
the Antinori, Frescobaldi and Ricasoli families, who still produce some of
Italy’s best-known wine today.
First introduced in the 1600s, their true purpose went untapped for
centuries after the plague — that is, until a new one came along this year.
During this time, some enterprising Florentine Wine Window owners have turned
back the clock and are using their Wine Windows to dispense glasses of wine,
cups of coffee, drinks, sandwiches and ice cream — all germ-free, contactless!
There are some 150 of these conversation pieces sprinkled around the
At 26 years old, Michelangelo was commissioned to undertake a large
piece of marble that lay abandoned for years in the yard of the cathedral
workshop and turn it into a masterpiece called “David". Starting in 1501,
it took 2 years for him to complete the sculpture.
In 1991, the foot of the statue was damaged by a man with a hammer. The
samples obtained from that incident allowed scientists to determine that the
marble used was obtained from the Fantiscritti quarries in Miseglia, the central
of three small valleys in Carrara, Italy near the Cinque Terre. The marble
contained many microscopic holes that cause it to deteriorate faster than other
marbles. Because of the marble's decline, the statue, in 2003, was given its
first major cleaning since 1843! Some experts opposed the use of water to clean
the statue, fearing further deterioration, but under the direction of senior
restorers, the renovation took place.
Florence's museum authority has played down the risk of Michelangelo's
500-year-old David falling down because of a series of micro-fractures on the
lower part of both legs and with the pedestal tilting up to 5 degrees. They
say, that even if there is an earthquake of 5.0 or 5.5 on the Richter scale,
Florence will stay in one piece, and David would be the last to fall.
In 2008, plans were proposed to insulate the statue from the vibration
of 5 million tourists’ footsteps every year at Florence's Galleria
dell'Accademia, to prevent damage to the marble. The vibrations have reduced
since the number of visitors allowed in at one time was limited.
During World War II, David was entombed in brick to protect it from
damage from airborne bombs.
…and the man who took a hammer to David’s toe? After spending time, in
and out of mental institutions, he was discovered years later in the Prato
cathedral scribbling on a 15th-century fresco by Filippo Lippi with a black
marker. Later in the year, he slashed a 16th-century painting entitled
“Adoration of the Shepherds Before Baby Jesus” with a knife. At the national
museum of modern art in Rome, he again used a black marker to doodle on a
Jackson Pollock painting with the claim that it was ugly. He took credit for
spray painting a black “X” across a commemorative plaque set in the paving of
Piazza dell Signoria in Florence, Italy. In the past, he had reportedly told
authorities he feels compelled to disfigure the artwork by an inexplicable
The base of the DAVID is now encircled with a waist-high glass wall to
discourage tourists from approaching it.
Florence by night