438. November 4, 1966
It is November 4th, but the year is 1966, 50 years ago.
The Arno river that usually flows quietly through Florence, has suddenly turned into an avalanche of mud and water flooding the streets of Florence, submerging, destroying everything in its path, threatening the very lives of the Florentines and their immense artistic heritage. We watched in disbelief as the water level kept rising metre by metre until it reached a depth of four meters.
It was 6:30 am on a Friday. I went early in the morning to my factory in Osmannoro as I was expecting a client to collect some pullovers that I had printed for him.
I handed him the goods and after a coffee he left for Bologna. A few minutes later he was back barefoot, his shoes in his hand. “We are surrounded by water… all the roads are blocked…” the sound of his voice in his distinctive Bolognese accent reaffirmed his alarm and added to ours.
We quickly moved the fabrics, the colours and anything else we could to to higher shelves. Then, together with my co-workers we tried to find a safer place.
The factory was flooded up to the roof. The colours we used in printing the fabrics ran in surreal patterns across the surface of the flood. Everything was destroyed. I had to start from scratch.
The next day the waters began to recede, leaving a devastated Florence in their wake. The landscape was transformed. Mud, coloured with slime, covered everything touched by the flood. Cars were stacked one upon another. There was debris of every description that the waters, in their fury, had carried along with them. But we had no drinking water, no electricity.
I wish to thank all those young people who, out of the kindness of their hearts, came to Florence from all over the world to help us out. It is thanks to them that the great artistic heritage of Florence was saved and restored. They seemed not to feel fatigue and always had a smile for everyone. We called them “The Mud Angels”
In one month my factory reopened! Work resumed in full swing. All the old clients were back and new clients arrived. Enthusiasm was high!
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