The Dominican church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva sports a series of graphic plaques that record some of the heights that the floodwaters have reached when the river Tiber has broken its banks.
The oldest plaque dates back to 1422, while the most recent is dated December, 1870. When Rome became the capital of Italy, in 1871, high embankments were built along both sides of the river, thus bringing to an end the flooding of the city.
The plaque illustrated above dates back to the time of Clement VII (r. 1523-34), the pope most famous in English circles for denying King Henry VIII a divorce from his Spanish wife, Catherine of Aragon.
It reads (in translation): 'In the year of the Lord 1530, on October 8th, in the seventh year of the holiest lord Pope Clement VII, the Tiber rose to this point, and all Rome would have been overwhelmed, had not the Virgin proffered swift aid.'
Historical flood plaques are to be found elsewhere in the city, such as at the nearby church of Sant' Eustachio. The oldest flood plaque dates back to November 6th, 1277, and can be found in the Arco dei Banchi, a narrow passage near the Castel Sant' Angelo.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
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