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The face of one of the most famous statues in the world - David by Michelangelo

Florence covers copy of Michelangelo’s David in black

Florence covers copy of Michelangelo’s David in black

As a gesture to honour the victims of the war in Ukraine

Yesterday, 6 March, was famed Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo’s birthday but the Municipality of Florence decided to mourn rather than celebrate. As a result, the copy of the David statue that sits in front of the Palazzo Vecchio was covered in black cloth in a gesture of solidarity with Florence’s twin city Kyiv which is currently suffering bombings and a massive assault by the Russian troops.

Symbolic act that was also a bit controversial

The gesture came as the first refugees from Ukraine arrived in Florence and were welcomed by the city’s mayor, Dario Nardella. He, together with representatives of the Tuscan city's Ukrainian community, attached the Ukrainian flag and yellow and blue ribbons to the black shroud.

"Today we want to recall Michelangelo on the day of his birth, March 6, with this gesture which is a gesture of mourning and pain. It is a very strong gesture of mourning to remember the thousands and thousands of victims who have been counted in these days. Civilian victims in Kyiv and all the other Ukrainian cities, but soldiers too," exclaimed the mayor.

Nardella went on: "We also want to remember the Russian soldiers, the young Russian soldiers sent in by Putin and his government to die for a mad, unjust and incomprehensible war. David is a symbol of liberty. And David fighting Goliath is the Ukraine people fighting for freedom. We are close to the Ukrainians because for us they are Michelangelo's David fighting against the tyranny of Goliath".

Interestingly though, not everyone was on board with the symbolism of the act. The Florence municipal website also reported statements by activists Dmitrij Palagi and Antonella Bundu, who were of the opinion that symbolism was in fact the problem here – in the sense that it was only a mask for the lack of any stronger actions on an institutional level.

We would like a Florence that puts the institutions at the disposal of peace movements and promotes discussions on how to stop Russia's crimes. Not a city in which we commit ourselves to making gestures that are only limited to being talked about. There is a need to talk about peace. Not about covered statues,” reads the statement. 

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