Calling All Angels

Florence campaigns to reunite volunteers of 1966 flood

Editorial Staff
December 29, 2005

A call to all “Mud Angels” has been made by the city of Florence. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the devastating Arno River flood of 1966, various initiatives will be organised throughout 2006 in order to locate the thousands of volunteers who helped save the city’s artistic heritage.


Countless numbers of artworks and books risked ruin when the city centre was covered in water and mud after the Arno overflowed its banks on November 4th 1966.  However, they were rescued by volunteers who arrived from all over the world to lend a hand in what seemed an impossible job. Tuscans were overcome by the international response. Notable world figures like Edward M. Kennedy and Richard Burton made pleas for aid, while hundreds of students arrived to wade through the muck in search of lost treasures. One of the most memorable rescues was that of the hundreds of young people who swarmed to the National Library, braving freezing, waist deep waters to remove the thousands of volumes of books and manuscripts located on lower level archives, which had been completely submersed.


In a recent press release announcing the event, Environmental and Territorial City Councillor, Erasmo D’Angelis, touchingly stated, “The many different languages spoken by the ‘Angels’ was a sign of life and hope for Tuscans in those dramatic hours. More than a thanks and a memory, this appeal launched by Florence, is also an occasion to remind us of how much still needs to be done to render Florence and Tuscany safe areas”.


Though major projects have been accomplished to improve control of high waters and eventual flooding, the Arno is still a potential problem. This past November, river levels became alarmingly high in the city after several days of hard rain.


The city and region hope that with the anniversary, in addition to being able to thank their guardian angels, they will also be able to put the spotlight back on this long-standing issue that has yet to be resolved.


The hunt to contact all of those involved in 1966 has now officially begun.  The “Mud Angels” will be invited to return to Florence for the event, November 3-5, 2006. For more information on the appeal:

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