As the November 4th anniversary of the 1966 flood that devastated Florence approaches, it’s the perfect time to read Robert Clark’s Dark Water: Art Disaster and Redemption in Florence, which was just released in paperback.
As Angela Leeper writes in her concise review in bookpage.com: “History and art criticism, with a dash of memoir thrown in, Robert Clark’s Dark Water chronicles how the flood of November 4, 1966—in which four million books, 14,000 works of art and 16 miles of documents were either damaged or destroyed—came to define the Italian city of Florence. Clark begins with a history of the city: its literary and artistic greats, its sins, its transformation into a tourist haven, and of course, its centuries of flooding. With each catastrophe, Florence’s residents were quick to place blame on God, their politicians or their immoral lifestyles.
“Clark continues his layered account with profiles of the residents, artists and volunteer ‘mud angels’ who began to salvage Florence’s treasures that November as the Arno River rushed by, improvising conservation and restoration on the spot. Throughout his evocative, detailed prose, he reflects on the city’s character and the ephemeral nature of beauty itself.”
A more detailed review was written by Michael Dirda in the Washington Post and can be found online.
For those who seeking more information about the 1966 flood, a website, florence-flood.com was created in 2006 on the 40th anniversary, to provide news, archives and photos.