Besides today being my mom's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!), it's also the 44th anniversary of the tragic 1966 "Alluvione di Firenze " (Flood of Florence).
I've read about the details of this day throughout the past few years, and also watched a documentary on that day's events. It's always interesting to see the photos from that day...so I've included some from 1966 and paired them from some of our photos through the years.
This flood from the waters of the Arno River came quickly and unexpectedly throughout the day of November 4, 1966, and by nightfall had killed a few dozen people, destroyed countless art pieces, and damaged thousands of historic buildings in the city center. Still today, around the city you can find plaques on street corners marking how high the water line reached.
In fact, in the magnificent church of Santa Croce (which holds many famous art masterpieces, and where Michelangelo and Galileo are buried among others) the stone plastered walls still bear the marks of a muddy water line. The area around this church received the highest water amounts reaching over 22 feet.
One of the most interesting parts of this story to me is how many people (mostly younger people) from around the city, region, and world, came together to help clean up the city and recover the lost and restore the damaged pieces of priceless art that laid in ruins in the historic buildings and museums. This group of people became known as the "Angeli del Fango" (Mud Angels).
So many times in situations of crisis around the world, is when one can see a banding together of people. Helping. Loving. And working together. Mario Primicerio, a past mayor of Florence, was a professor during the '66 flood who became a part of the Mud Angels. In an interview, he gave three reasons for why volunteers felt the sense to help: a concern for future generations, a feeling of international unity and a pervasive sense of solidarity.
"What we were doing was dictated by the desire to give back the traces of the history of the past to future generations, so that it could be used for the spiritual growth of people who perhaps had yet to be born...it was the international community that worked to try to save Florence, this unique patrimony which belonged to the whole world."