Michelangelo's statue David has stood in Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia since 1873. ((Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press))

Florence is considering a plan to move Michelangelo's David in an effort to ease crowding in the historic centre of the city.

The handsome naked youth has stood in the Galleria dell'Accademia in central Florence since 1873, when it was moved inside to protect it from the weather.

It is one of Florence's greatest attractions and tourists waiting in line to see it congest city streets and leave chewing gum on ancient buildings.

Tuscany's top cultural official, Paolo Cocchi, has proposed moving the 4.3-metre marble statue to a theatre to be built on the outskirts of the city, near Leopolda Station.

"Florence has reached an unsustainable level of tourists," Cocchi said. "The actual site of David in the centre of town is logistically unfortunate. It would be beneficial for everyone to move it so that the tourist area can be enlarged and decongested."

It is one of several proposals being made to handle congestion and vibrations that are hurting old structures in Florence.

The city is also planning to build tram lines into the city to reduce car traffic. 

As many as 11 million tourists visit the city annually.

"I believe that the response to the problems of mass tourism requires study and analysis," said Mayor Leonardo Domenici.

"Everything is up for discussion and everything has its time. I don't believe that the question of David will be among our immediate priorities."

The theatre where the David would be moved is not slated to be completed until 2010-2011.

In 1504, took four days to move David from Michelangelo's studio to its original home in a downtown piazza.

Moving the statue in contemporary times will also be huge logistical exercise due to its weight and value.

With files from the Associated Press