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Remembering the Flood of Florence 50 years later



Remembering the Flood of Florence 50 years later

Protecting Cultural Heritage in an Uncertain Time

Washington DC, October 27, 2016 – Fifty years ago, between November 4 and 5, 1966, Florence was flooded by the waters of the Arno. Devastation was everywhere, in the streets, buildings, churches, monuments, masterpieces and most of all in the lives and hearts of all the people who were tragically affected. To remember the flood, the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Institute of Culture of Washington, DC, together with the Italian Institute of Culture in New York, New York University, the National Gallery of Art, Friends of Florence, and Rai Teche organized an event and an exhibition at the Embassy of Italy and a symposium at the New York University – Washington DC campus with the participation of the mayor of Florence Dario Nardella.

What use is remembering without learning? With a deep concern about cultural heritage the two events had a common thread: sending a message to the young generation. Wherever destruction comes from - nature or humankind - the result will be exactly the same: destruction. “We have to ensure that the constant flow of history is not abruptly interrupted,” said the Ambassador of Italy Armando Varricchio talking to the audience at the NYU, “Italy has one of the largest portions of the world's heritage. This is a privilege but also a burden as we have been entrusted with the responsibility of protecting it and passing it over to our children and future generations.” This is why the title of the symposium was Protecting Cultural Heritage in an Uncertain Time.

​Cultural heritage is increasingly in danger of intentional destruction or incidental damage in the context of war and terrorism and it is at risk also due to illicit trafficking of art. The symposium panelists focused on finding the best methods of documentation and preservation of endangered artifacts and at-risk sites of cultural heritage. They also discussed: the feasibility, desirability and ethics of reconstructing destroyed cultural properties; strategies to control illicit trafficking of art; and how technology can contribute to solutions.

The poignant exhibition, on view by appointment at the Embassy of Italy until November 14, 2016, is courtesy of Professor Joe Blaustein, who during the flood was visiting Florence and took the photos that show those dramatic days.

“Heritage is not just something that belongs to the past, it is the best way to ensure your future,” emphasized Ambassador Armando Varricchio, “today’s youth has a great responsibility and a great privilege.”