The newspaper articles read, "FANGO! FANGO!"

An account by Catherine Williams (USA)

I was a student in Florence that year, spending my Junior year abroad with Florida State University--the first year of the program. We were living at the Hotel Capri on Via Aprile, down the street from the Acadamia. It had been wet and miserable--I'd spent the day in Fiesole with a friend and came back in the rain to the Hotel. The next morning we heard that the Arno had flooded--the flood came up to our street and stopped--no lights, no water. We set out to explore and were met with cars wrapped around poles, mud caked on buildings--mud, mud everywhere. The newspaper articles read, "FANGO! FANGO!"

In the next few days I learned what it was like to brush my teeth with "aqua con gas"--very foamy, and to put on contact lens with the same--an invigorating wake-you-up! We stood in line for water from the military tanks and spent the days in the basement of the library forming a human chain to pass ancient books and manuscripts hand to hand to the light.

We helped shovel and sweep the mountains of fango as reports came in of destroyed art objects, the saddest of which was the beautiful Cimabue crucifix at Santo Spirito.

I spent my 20th birthday at Florence in flood. I can think of no more fitting place to be for my 50th.

Catherine (Catarina) Williams: Bradenton, Florida



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