FLORENCE, Italy – It’s refreshing to know that crass commercialism isn’t the sole province of the United States.

Here in the home of Michelangelo’s David, the likeness of the biblical giant-slayer is everywhere. Even his legendary johnson dangles on items such as T-shirts, posters, and, of course, underwear.

But take away the sophomoric humor, and Florence is a metropolitan delight, mixing the best of the medieval with the contemporary.

A few blocks from the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge built in 1345, sharp-dressed women line up to shop at Gucci and Prada.

Cars and motorcycles speed dangerously past walkers in a city anchored by the imposing Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore, which took more than 130 years to construct.

If you admire art, you’ll love the Uffizi Gallery, which houses the works of DaVinci and Botticelli.

All roads in Florence, however, eventually lead to the Accademia.

This is one place where not only is it polite to stare, it’s encouraged. And visitors get an eyeful with David.

Bathed in a skylight, the white marble sculpture is a behemoth at 17 feet and 10,000 pounds. As impressive as the scale is the artist’s attention to detail, from the tendons in his neck to the veins in his arm.

No photos are allowed. The memory alone is enough.


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