My friend Ashley, a University senior, was studying art in Florence last spring. Her only complaint was that it was hard to access authentic Italy because tourism often seems to overtake Florence. Still, every now and then she was able to see a quieter side of Italy.

“I was drawing an Italian liberator statue in the middle of this piazza. There was this old man sitting by me, and he asked me what my name was and what I was doing, and I told him I was an art student. He asked me about some of the things I had seen in Italy, and I responded I’ve seen that and that etc. and he said ‘well have you seen the face of Michelangelo?’ I was confused because I thought I had heard him wrong—by the way, all of this was in Italian—and I was like what? But then he said va va which means come, come with me, so we walked over to the city hall and there, on this twelfth century building, [the Palazzo Vecchio] was a carving of what appeared to be Michelangelo’s face. The story goes that Michelangelo was admiring the David* from that spot where he was sitting, and proceeded to draw his own face on the side of the wall**.”

*The David is one of the most famous statues in the world; it the idealized figure of the biblical David, sculpted by Michelangelo. Ashley explains that the original statue once stood in the place she describes above, but today a copy of it graces the spot.

**This face is more popularly known as I’ importuno, or “annoying”. Apparently Michaelangelo drew the profile of an annoying or drunk passerby here, though versions of the story differ.