Working together, now like then

Italy and the US, 50 years post-Arno flood

Abigail M. Rupp
November 3, 2016 - 17:57

Italy and the United States have a bond that goes back all the way to the beginning of our country. From New World adventurers Amerigo Vespucci and Giovanni da Verrazzano to Tuscan philosopher and agriculturalist Filippo Mazzei, Italy and America have been longtime partners.

Today, we have a robust Italian-American community in the U.S. and a vibrant community of close to 100,000 American residents and students here in our consular district—not to mention over a million American tourists a year. And in the U.S. close to 5,000 Italian students are at our universities and colleges, and 1.2 million Italians visit each year for work or vacation. This shared bond was even clearer when Americans and Italians, along with citizens from all over the world, worked together to help Florence and Tuscany recover from the devastating November 4, 1966 flood.

A Florentine flood marker indicating the depth of the waters in 1966 A Florentine flood marker indicating the depth of the waters in 1966

My predecessor, Consul General Joseph Wheeler, led our Consulate team in assisting American citizens during and in the aftermath of the flood, and helped support the relief efforts of the “Mud Angels” and of many parts of the U.S. government and the American people who wanted to do all they could to support this city, which is precious to so many of us.

Americans and Italians worked hand in hand during that time, just as we do now on so many issues important to both of our countries. And what the events of those days also mean to me is this: each of us can do something. It wasn’t “The Consulate” or “The Government” who helped the city. It was individual people, who wanted to do whatever they could to help a city and a people in need. As we think about that difficult time in Florence’s history, let’s remember that we can all continue to look for ways to help others who need it. Let’s think about how we can pull together to combat climate change, assist refugees and increase trade between our two countries. And let’s celebrate how much more both of our countries can do when we work together.

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