Florence’s most instantly recognizable square contains two of the structures most pertinent to David’s path: the workshop of the Opera del Duomo, where Michelangelo labored tirelessly, and the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s cathedral. The crown jewel of Florence, the cathedral was another element of David’s story that entered long before Michelangelo was ever part of the picture. Even in the earliest days of the church’s construction, a statue of the figure of David was envisioned as part of the cathedral complex. Originally, Michelangelo’s and 11 related sculptures were intended to stand on the cathedral’s individual tribune spurs (a particular type of protrusion on the buttresses, ideal for mounting statues).
When you’re winding your way through the heart of the historic center, it’s tough not to stumble on piazza del Duomo, no matter the angle you’re coming from. Sure, you should take in the striking beauty of Brunelleschi’s dome and the mind-boggling detail of the church’s facade, but step back from the tourist hordes and contemplate something that won’t be on most of their minds: how the David might have looked perched in the air with a squad of similarly triumphant sculptures.