An account by Carlo Alberto Garzonio (I)
Our first reaction when we heard the news that the Arno had flooded was of utter disbelief. We thought that someone had made it up.
We lived in Via Bertani, in the Campo di Marte area, and this news seemed quite impossible. My father Umberto, my brother Stefano and I set off in the direction of Piazza Alberti, by way of Via Lungo l'Affrico. It continued to pour with rain and the drains were overflowing with water; we went around rather than over the overpass which was already crowded with people. From what we could hear, and from the expressions on their faces, we gathered that the situation was really serious.
In the early afternoon, obviously on foot, we tried to reach the centre. Our zigzagging route took us past Piazza Isidoro del Lungo, Via Cherubini, Via Lamarmora and Via Modena, which was partly flooded. We arrived in the vicinity of San Marco and we were forced to stop just before Via della Dogana: I can remember the cars tumbling about in the water, which was not very deep but rushed by at a terrifying speed. I can still clearly picture something else that made a great impression on me, which was the desolate sight of the pianos floating about in the cellars of the "Brizzi e Niccolai" shop that sold musical instruments in Via de' Pecori. The owner, Sig. Morelli, was a family friend.
I also remember oil everywhere as well as the smell of it, which penetrated everything. The water started to go down and everyone wanted to do what they could to help. One of the many centres for the organization of aid, which was situated opposite Palazzo Medici Riccardi, sent us first to the National Library which, however, already had too many volunteers, then to the State Archives and, last of all, to the Academy of the Georgofili. There, like everywhere else, the situation was desperate. We pulled the books or what was left of them out of the mud, cleaned the pages, placing sheets of absorbent paper between each leaf and took them off to dry out at Villa Peruzzi, at Antella. We worked on treatises on planning, agricultural systems etc.
I worked at the Georgofili for a month, maybe longer, and I was only 13.
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