News, Archives and Photos for the Florence Flood of 1966
Florence-Flood.com is a website, blog and information resource dedicated to the tragic Florence flood of November, 1966. If you have a resource about the flood you would like to see listed here, please let us know. You can also ask questions and/or leave comments on all of the articles using the comment form at the bottom of each article, or sign up to receive email alerts when we update the site by using the form below. This is a volunteer operation, so if you are planning to visit Florence, booking a tour or activity from our partner Viator or a hotel from Venere.com (click the banners below to start) helps support us, as does the purchase of books via Amazon. Thanks!
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November 04, 2012
Color photos of the flood of 1966
From running this website I have had the privilege to receive correspondence from many people who were in Florence during the flood. Last year I had my first communication from Joseph Blaustein. He has a treasure trove of color photographs from the morning after the flood (as well as an amazing personal story), and this year he finally had his old prints digitized (or he may have had them printed from negatives or slides - we have not gone over all the small details yet). He just sent me many of these shots. I only have time to share one now - but they are amazing, moving, vivid images of the flood - and may be some of the only color images anywhere. Please respect his copyright and his work - if you share these photos elsewhere on the web, kindly keep the copyright notice on the picture.
The photographer recalls that the people on the street in the morning were like zombies - too in shock to talk - they surveyed the damage in near silence:
The 46th Anniversary of the 1966 Flood of Florence
Today marks 46 years since the great flood of 1966. There are many events happening in Florence at the moment, and at one of them, Florens2012, the RFK Center Europe will host an aperitivo dedicated to the memory of Ted Kennedy, "angelo del fango nel 1966".
I am publishing below some photos and memories sent to me from a soldier in the U.S. Army who at the time was stationed at Camp Darby. He was a driver, and ended up helping to move items affected by the flood (the following has been edited a bit for spelling and grammar):
I was sent up to Florence along with another GI and we got there several days before the main group of 10-12 arrived. Signed in at the Embassy and I do not remember what we all did.
In visiting Florence prior to the flood, we met the lady who owned a pensione and enjoyed all the area around the Ponte Vecchio.
Anyway, I had and was driving a 2.5 Ton truck and somehow I was around the Uffizi (a place I knew well) and this dude dressed in black wanted me to haul some books to a dry place and he said it would take an hour or so. After a while and his continued asking, I agreed and students loaded the books and away we went. The hour turned into all afternoon and I got caught by an US army Captain and he chewed my ass out about what I had done.
The next morning at the embassy this church dude shows up wearing black but he had red stuff also. He talked with the Captain and I hauled books for the next few weeks. I was not allowed to touch the books and mostly students did the loading and unloading.
After several weeks I left Florence and took an 18 Wheeler load of sleeping bags to some place way up north, but on a Sunday when trucks where not allowed on the main roads, that was an experience.
I was one of the few soldiers (10) at Camp Darby that had driver's licenses for any vehicle and especially big trucks, therefore I got to go a lot of places like, Verona, etc.
Next week November 4th will mark the 46th anniversary of this tragic event. I have a lot of photographs and some personal stories to publish that I received last year from people who found this blog for the first time and got in touch with me personally. I look forward to publishing more of them in the coming days, and also posting any news and scheduled events I can find that will commemorate the flood this year.
The 45th Anniversary of the Florence Flood of 1966 is today. It is a cool gray day here in Florence with rain in the forecast, and I am not sure what if anything is planned by the city this year. We are going to take a walk into the center and see if any ceremonies are happening, etc.
If there is anything going on I will get some photos and/or video and post it later in the day. I will also be posting a second album of Mud Angel photos later today or in the next few days.
University of Maryland shares rare Zeffirelli film; Remembers 45th anniversary of Florence, Italy, flood
A rare screening of Franco Zeffirelli's only documentary film--a heartfelt call to action showing the effects of the 1966 flood that devastated Florence, Italy, and rallied art lovers worldwide--will be the centerpiece of a program hosted by the University of Maryland Libraries and the National Gallery of Art.
Florence: Days of Destruction will be shown at the National Gallery of Art, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 5, at 3:30 p.m. The event marks the 45th anniversary of the flood.
Produced by the famed Italian director in the weeks following the flood, the documentary urged support to help rescue Italian works of art. Actor Richard Burton, who was working in Rome as the disaster unfolded, narrated and appeared in the film and appealed for aid.
The University of Maryland Libraries hold the only known copy of the English-language version of the film in the United States. RAI, the national Italian radio and television company, makes the black-and-white Italian version available on its website. (read more: http://www.lib.umd.edu/Zeffirellifilm.html)
I was very honored to get an email, nearly two years ago, from Mary - a real "Mud Angel" - who offered to send me her photos to post here on Florence Flood. It has taken way too long to do this, but here they are - a real treasure trove of people coming together to save some of the treasures of Florence - specifically books in this case. The photos here are actually from February 1967, a few months after the flood - this description is from Mary:
"...I was in Florence working on the books from the National Library that were brought in from the tobacco barns in the countryside.
I was there at least a week and we worked every day at Fort Belvedere, primarily scraping mud from the pages that had been unbound by the Italian students, packaging them up & lowering them down for transport to the railway station for washing.
The people I was working with were all sorts (students, airline stewardesses on layover, etc.) but primarily decisions were made by the British bookbinders.
The weather was good enough that we sat outside for lunch and were enthralled by the descriptions of the problems they encountered "the last time we rebound the Book of Kells!!"
(This is the first half of the photos, I will be posting the rest in another album closer to the 45th anniversary of the flood on November 4th, 2011)
The 44th Anniversary of the flood seems pretty quiet in Florence this year. I did not even notice the usual posting of pictures in shops, etc. as there seems to be each November 4th. Maybe with the "crisis" no one wants to remember! There was a ceremony in Piazza della Repubblica:
The 43rd Anniversary of the great flood of Florence
Well - I guess 43 is a quiet one. I had totally forgot about the flood this year, and I didn't notice any of the usual activity around town (I was sick for a couple of days - probably would have picked up on something if I was out and about more). Anyway - the date was yesterday. Maybe on the 45th there will be more activity (like there was on the 40th year).
Here is an article weaving the recent tragic earthquakes in L'Aquila with the flood of 1966:
Many will remember the Florence flood of 1966. Once the waters receded and the mud remained, thousands went to Florence to help. I was sent by my parents to volunteer. I was basically a kid who helped carry things and acted as a gofer. I later learned that I was technically a "mud angel." I had been a witness and, in my small way, I helped. But, perhaps of greater importance was that I became totally convinced that I would try in my career to help keep great works of art safe.
THERE are, writes Robert Clark, two concepts of the legendary city on the banks of the Arno in northern Italy. One, called Firenze, is populated by the proud, hard-working people who live there. The other, known to many as Florence, is home to the world’s greatest concentration of sublime works of art. Both are susceptible to terrible flooding—and November is the cruellest month. The river Arno’s first great flood happened on November 4th 1333; there were 3,000 deaths and the reason given was the sinfulness of man. On November 4th 1966 another great flood inundated the city; 33 people died and the blame fell principally on Enel, Italy’s largest power company.
Tomorrow is the 42nd anniversary of the flood. We have had some rain here in Florence recently (finally!) to remind us, but the event seems to passing this year without much fanfare. I am sure there will be some remembrances held in town - maybe at the Palazzo Vecchio, etc. I will try to find some local news as I can't scrape anything up on the web at the moment.