USA Today

Florence, Italy:

On May 24, more than a year after the start of a very public and equally contentious restoration, Michelangelo’s Goliath “David” will be back in full public view in the cradle of the Renaissance. And in September, the perfect man, as he is often known, will celebrate his 500th birthday with pomp befitting a pope.

The cleaning has proceeded even as tourists visit, but three weeks ago, the towering scaffolding was removed, leaving only a five-foot-high fence enclosing the base so restorer Cinzia Parnigoni could touch up the last spots. When it came down, there were — blessedly for all — no gasps of either astonishment or dismay at what had been done to the most priceless sculpture in the world.

“It’s not too white. It just looks more gentle,” says Franca Falletti, director of Galleria dell’Accademia, where “David” has stood for the past 122 years in the domed salon built expressly for him. “You can see the definition better now.” For much of the statue’s life, few really cared about it, according to Falletti. Carved by Michelangelo when he was 29, the colossus was meant to symbolise the struggle of the tiny Florentine state against powerhouse Rome, just as David triumphed over Goliath.