On November 4th 1966 Florence was ravaged by a flood that covered the city and surrounding areas with water and mud.
After 2 days of heavy rain the Arno river flooded at 5.30 am, starting from the area of the National Library and Santa Croce and soon getting to 5 meters (15 feet). The water entered the Baptistery, Palazzo Vecchio and the Duomo damaging countless artworks. Casualties were officially assessed to be 34, but there are still rumors and doubts on this point.
2 days later the situation looked dramatic: no electricity, no bread, houses lost, artworks cancelled or soaked in water: worse than German mines and bombings of WWII. Fortunately the concern for the destiny of so much beauty moved people from all over the world: volunteers, then called ‘angels of mud’, came to help the Florentines and save the artistic heritage.
Plates and images can be found around town (and online) and the memory of the flood is still very vivid for the people, but a favorite is the documentary by Franco Zeffirelli For Florence, meant to raise funds in Europe and US: Richard Burton spoke Italian and Elisabeth Taylor commented in English the shooting of the flood.