Remembering the 1966 Florence Flood

Piazza del Duomo, 1966

The 51st anniversary of the Florence Flood will be marked by the Biblioteca Nazionale (National Library) on November 4, 2017, with an updated version of ‘Arno 66 – The Time Machine’ that honors the memory of the past, while projecting the future.

‘Arno 66,’ which was curated by Lorenzo Garzella and Filippo Macelloni, allows people to virtually relive moments of the flood, through photographs and movies showing scenes of the disaster and displaying the great humanitarian efforts.

Andrea Macaluso will be participating in the initiative, by lending his voice to guide the first visitors on November 4.  For those unable to attend on Saturday, the library is offering tours Monday 6 through Friday 10 (10 am – 12 noon). There will also be a tour on both Saturday, November 11 (10 am – 5 pm), and Saturday, November 18 (10:30 am).

While participation is free, it is necessary to make a reservation, either by calling the following numbers: 3346606716 – 3296564813, or by emailing

VR tablets will be used to reveal how the fast-moving, muddy water affected the different sections of the Biblioteca Nazionale, and help the audience fully immerse themselves into the one of the most tragic events of Florentine history.

After days of heavy downpour, Florence was soaked. When the bursting gates of upstream dams were suddenly opened, the entire city became submerged. Thick mud combined with rapid water filled the streets and areas of the city.

A number of Florentines were killed, but even more were left completely homeless. The muddy water destroyed many businesses and shops, but also severely damaged many famous artworks.

The Biblioteca Nazionale was one of the most symbolic places of the disaster. When the waters rushed into the historical library and the ancient texts became submerged in grimy sludge, international volunteers formed a human chain to save and preserve thousands of books suffering from damage.

These “Mud Angels” became a worldwide symbol of the generosity and selflessness possessed by humans. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with the sequences of these dramatic events. (shannon duggan)