This year marks the 50th anniversary of Florence’s most devastating natural disaster of modern times. In 1966, the Arno River “spilled over its banks” reaching a height of 10 feet above street level. The flood killed 35 people and damaged 6,000 businesses. Citizens were without electricity or gas or heating for days.

Many American students and professors who were in Florence for study abroad programs were among those how helped to salvage books, parchments, and scrolls from Uffizi Gallery and the National Library. They were invited back to Florence this year to be honored for all they did to help the city during the disaster.

Flooding isn’t anything new to Florence. The Arno River has flooded the streets of Florence 56 times since the first recorded flood in 1177. So the question remains, why haven’t Florentine officials done more to prevent the flow of water into the streets that seems to be inevitable at some point? A $117 million project was just approved last year, constructing 26ft high embankments that can divert Arno water, but will this be enough? It seems that if the world wants to keep the streets of Florence and the history that comes with it safe from future water damage, more needs to be done to prevent the flooding.

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