More than 250 tremors have been rattling Florence and the Chianti region since Friday, raising concerns over the safety of Michelangelo's David.
According to Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the two major shocks that hit the wine-growing region measured 3.8. and 4.1 on the Richter scale, while several others reached 3.0 to 3.5, scaring people but leaving no one injured.
Minor tremors are continuing at the moment, sparking alarm over the national art treasure, with the focus on Michelangelo's statue of David. Earlier this year, experts found David at risk of crumbling down under its own weight because of tiny fractures in its ankles.
Michelangelo's David at Risk From Weak Ankles
Italy's ministry of culture Dario Franceschini announced on Sunday that the 17-foot high statue will be given a special, anti-seismic platform worth $250,000. The support is expected to be ready for use by the end of 2015.
"The recent earthquakes make this project urgent," Franceschini said in a statement. "A masterpiece like David must not be left to any risk."
Representing the biblical hero who killed Goliath, the sculpture marked a watershed in Renaissance art and established Michelangelo as the foremost sculptor of his time at the age of 29.
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The towering sculpture, acclaimed for its depiction of male physical perfection, was displayed for the first time beside the main doorway of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence on Sept. 8, 1504.
David remained in its original location, at the mercy of the elements, until 1873, when it was moved to its present location in the Galleria dell'Accademia, where it attracts 1.25 million visitors a year.
Indeed, the micro fractures on David's ankles are the result of a long-lasting, small forward inclination of about 5 degrees during the statue's time in Piazza della Signoria.
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Tests by the National Research Council and Florence University suggested that the 6-ton marble statue would break under its own weight if standing at an inclination higher than 15 degrees.
"There is a real risk that David collapses under an earthquake," Fernando De Simone, an expert in underground engineering, said.
According to De Simone, the anti-seismic platform will not fully protect the masterpiece from earthquakes.
"It will protect it from vibrations, but could not prevent the ceiling from crumbling over the statue," De Simone said.
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He believes David and other art treasures should be moved to a specially built, anti-seismic underground museum.
In April 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake devastated the town of L'Aquila and province in central Italy, killing 309 people, and was preceded by several weeks of minor tremors.
The biggest earthquake in recent history in the Florence area dates back to 1895. At that time, an estimated 5.4-magnitude event hit the same Chianti region, causing damage to buildings, churches and museums.