The Flood of 1966
‘They all call it a river, and they honestly think it is a river, do these dark and bloody Florentines. They even help out the delusion by building bridges over it. I do not see why they are too good to wade.’ (Innocents Abroad, 1869).
Mark Twain (1835-1910) might not have been very impressed by the river Arno, but over the centuries it has unleashed its power on numerous occasions, breaking its banks and wreaking death and destruction in the city.
Attached to buildings throughout the centro storico are plaques that mark the heights the floodwater has reached, recording dates in 1333, 1547, 1557 and 1844. However, the record was achieved on November 4th 1966, when the floodwaters reached a height of 6 metres (20 feet).
Thousands of people, from all over the world, flocked to Florence to offer their assistance. Working tirelessly to save countless artefacts and works of art from the sludge, which was left behind when the floodwaters retreated, they were nicknamed the 'angeli del fango' (angels of mud).
To mark the tenth anniversary of the flood, the city council commissioned local artist Galeazzo Auzzi (1934-2016) to create a monument to honour the invaluable help the 'angels of mud' provided. The monument, known as the Stele dell' Amicizia (Stele of Friendship), stands in a small garden overlooking the river Arno, close to Porta San Niccolo.