Florence acts to ensure Michelangelo's David remains sure-footed after recent earthquakes

Experts assess seismic stability of Galleria dell’Accademia and the rest of the city's treasures


Experts are assessing the seismic resistance of Florence’s historic treasures in the wake of the catastrophic series of earthquakes that shook central Italy last year, killing nearly 300 people and destroying the 14th-century Basilica of St Benedict in Norcia.

The disasters have revived the debate around the weak ankles of Michelangelo’s David (1501-04) at the Galleria dell’Accademia. In 2014, geoscientists from Italy’s National Research Council raised the alarm that the five-tonne statue shows micro-fractures in its lower legs and risks toppling under its own weight. The architect Fernando De Simone is lobbying the city council to create an anti-seismic museum to house the Renaissance masterpiece and a selection of the city’s most important works of art “before it’s too late”. The director of the Accademia, Cecile Hollberg, has discussed drawing up an earthquake preservation plan for the gallery with Dario Franceschini, the Italian culture minister.

Meanwhile, the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, the 700-year-old organisation in charge of the Duomo and its surrounding monuments, will carry out the first comprehensive analysis of Giotto’s campanile, including its foundations, construction materials and seismic stability. The study, to be complete by November 2017, will map cracks in the 85m-high structure and survey the land on which it stands in the heart of Florence’s historic centre. The Opera is working in collaboration with the city’s architecture superintendency under the leadership of Francesco Gurrieri, a former member of the international committee for the preservation of the leaning Tower of Pisa. The project is part of a full check-up for the cathedral complex.

The Italian government has submitted a request to the European Union (EU) for funding to support ongoing reconstruction efforts in the central regions. The European Commission released an initial €30m grant from the EU solidarity fund—the highest possible advance sum—in December.