This past summer the Arno was so low that water plants were creeping across the river, strangling the flow. Three months later the plants are history, swept away by a torrent of cafféllatte water that is lapping half way up the lawn of the rowing club near the Ponte Vecchio.
Although the situation is not as dire as the floods in Venice or the present scare that the Tiber will crest its banks in Rome, Florence has done less that most Italian cities to prevent a repeat of the 1966 Alluvione. (On November 4, 1966, the Arno broke over and through its walls to drown the historic center in twenty feet of water, mud and oil.)
This weekend the ninth annual golf tournament is being held on the Ponte Vecchio – why in December? – why on the Ponte Vecchio? – and the river’s current prevented the positioning of the three competition tees. Neither the roar of the Arno nor the constant sprinkling of rain deterred the contestants.
An interesting book on Florence’s 1966 flood, Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces by Robert Clark, appeared in the bookstores in October this year. He proposes that it won’t be too long before the same catastrophe will visit the city again.
More rain is forecast for the coming week throughout the country. Sale of rubber boots is running high. In fact, Venice hotels are offering boots/room deals.
More Interesting Reading and Video
Video, articles, photographs, and interviews in The Florence Flood Blog
Michael Dirda’s fabulous review of Robert Clark’s book and his own remembrances of the 1966 flood in the Washington Post
London Telegraph article and video about Acqua Alta hotel offers in Venice
Reuters (including video) reports Rome’s Tiber River On Flood Alert