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The Florence Flood of November 1966



The Florence Flood of November 1966

‘So much fear, desperation, ruin, tears … Florence, my dear beautiful Florence, no longer exists’. Loredana Valmori

Philip Cooke’s talk is on an unprecedented natural and cultural disaster – the great flood of Florence of 1966. On the morning of 4 November, after a sustained period of heavy rain, flood waters coursed through the city, leading to a number of casualties, particularly in the poorer parts of Florence. The waters of the Arno river soon mixed with fuel oil, to create a cloying emulsion which damaged some of the world’s greatest art treasures – including Cimabue’s Crucifix at the Church of Santa Croce. The flooding in this period affected not only Florence and the surrounding countryside, but also devastated Venice and other parts of Northern Italy. These events appalled a worldwide audience and led to huge aid efforts. The actor Richard Burton, who was in Italy at the time, interrupted his work to make a filmed appeal which was shown throughout the world. The people of Aberfan sent parcels containing toys and clothes belonging to the children killed in the landslip of October 1966. Young people from many nations rushed to Florence to help, and they became one of the great visual icons of the disaster. Caked in mud and slime, they were dubbed the ‘angels of the mud’. Aid, channelled through such organisations as the American based CRIA, or England and Wales’ ‘Italian Art and Archives Rescue Fund’ (the forerunner of Venice in Peril), paid for the restoration of many of the artworks and books – a process which took decades and is still ongoing. The talk coincides with the 50th anniversary of these events.


Phil Cooke joined the University of Strathclyde as a lecturer in 1993, after nearly ten years as a student at Edinburgh University. He came to Scotland from the South of England in 1984, and has lived here ever since, apart from several years living in various cities in Italy (Rome, Milan, Siena and, above all, Florence). He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2000 and to Professor of Italian History and Culture in 2013. He teaches Italian Language, History, Film and Literature at all levels.


Data: Gio 17 Nov 2016

Orario: Alle 18:00

Organizzato da : Italian Cultural Institute

Ingresso : Libero


Italian Cultural Institute Edinburgh