The Galleria dell’Accademia offers one of the most important collections of ancient Italian paintings, but the long queues of visitors are mostly for Michelangelo.

It is the second museum site in Italy after the Uffizi in terms of receipts, and this statistic can be easily explained: in its crowded spaces (that welcomed 1.7 million visitors in 2018!) the Galleria dell’Accademia displays the largest number of sculptures by one of the greatest Renaissance artists of all time – Michelangelo Buonarroti – among which the very famous, beloved and admired David, able to create long and patient queues at the entrance, both in the summer heat and the winter cold alike.

For the birth of the Gallery we must thank Pietro Leopoldo, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who in 1784 organised the new Academy of Fine Arts on the premises of a fourteenth-century hospital and former convent, and gradually expanded it with the works recovered through the suppression of churches and ecclesiastical sites. But the key historical event of the museum was undoubtedly the 1873 transfer of Michelangelo’s David from Piazza della Signoria (where a copy is now on display) to its specially designed seat in the Gallery.

Apart from the David, today the rooms of the Gallery host various masterpieces by great Italian artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pontorno, Andrea del Sarto and others; as well as the fascinating model for the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, whose final work can be seen in the Loggia dei Lanzi; the most important collection of gold background paintings; and the Museum of Musical Instruments, where instruments by Stradivari and Bartolomeo Cristofori – inventor of the piano – are on display.

In short: the Gallery is a museum not to be missed, but if you prefer to avoid crowds, take advantage of the summer evening openings and enjoy the David in total relaxation.