• Short Summary

    This week sees the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Italian Renaissance master, Michelangelo Buonarroti, but the city where he spent a great deal of his creative life, Florence, virtually will ignore the event.

  • Description

    This week sees the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Italian Renaissance master, Michelangelo Buonarroti, but the city where he spent a great deal of his creative life, Florence, virtually will ignore the event.

    Florence contains some of the finest works of the master, but many are poorly displayed and others are hidden from view entirely. Michelangelo was born on the sixth of March, 1475, the son of a Magistrate in the town of Caprese, but spent much of his early life in Florence. It was in Rome, however, that he carved the first of his major works, the Bacchus and Saint Peter's Pieta, which was completed at the turn of the century.

    Probably the most famous of his sculptures, however - the gigantic statue of David - stands in Florence at the Galleria Dell Accademia.

    Although already hailed as the greatest living artist, it was not until 1508, back in Rome, that Michelangelo began his greatest work, the painting of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

    Yet for all the art treasures Michelangelo gave the world in his eighty-nine years, today he is all but forgotten in Italy.

    There are virtually no plans to celebrate his birthday on Thursday, mainly, officials say, because of a lack of money.

    While other cities, such as London, have impressive displays to mark the occasion, the best that can be hoped for in Italy is a one-day conference in Florence and a small celebration in the village of his birth.

    SYNOPSIS: FLORENCE -- Where Michelangelo created many of his masterpieces. But on the eve of the five-hundredth anniversary of his birth, , officials in the city have no plans to celebrate the occasion. In fact, the man who was known as IL DIVINO during his life time is virtually forgotten in Italy. The Church of Santa Croce, which contains Michelangelo's tomb, today is surrounded by scaffolding and sheeting. Restorations work is the officials explanation. Officials say, however, that money for such work is scarce.

    At the Galleria Dell Accademia, one of the master's best works, the gigantic statue of David, stands only a few meters from workman who are rebuilding part of the gallery. Visitors are still allowed in to see this and other works in the gallery, but they have to contend with temporary structures and the noise in their quest for culture.

    At the Casa Buonarroti, the house Michelangelo bought for his family in the early sixteenth century, officials are forced to look at replicas of his work. Recent art thefts have forced officials to lock up the many originals they have of Michelangelo's work. The thefts include those of three Renaissance masterpieces from Ducal Place at Urbing and twenty-eight paintings from the Milan Museum of Modern Art. With officials so security-conscious, the only celebration in Florence for Michelangelo's five-hundredth birthday looks like being a one-day conference on this work.

    Not all of Michelangelo's work, of course, is in Florence, Saint Peter' Basilica in Rome contains some of his more famous works, including the magnificent Sistine ceiling.

    Statues like this of Moses Rachele and Lea are displayed prominently, as are many in the Basilica, but there are many more throughout Italy which are poorly displayed or are hidden from view entirely. Many museums and art galleries are closed more often than they are open because neither guards, nor money to pay for them, can be found. More than ten thousand works of art were stolen last year alone from state-owned museums and galleries.

    Officials say they are eager to devote whatever meagre resources they can muster to improve the situation. It appears, however, that celebrations of anniversaries, even for one as great as Michelangelo' must take a back seat in Italy these days. It may be an example of general malaise affecting the country's artistic heritage, or perhaps it's the cold economic facts of life.

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