The waters retreat
The floodwaters retreated slowly, leaving Florence buried in mud, oil, household goods and desperation. The Florentines did not as yet really realise what had happened, they were in a state of shock and dumb-founded, it seemed impossible that such a thing could happen. Unfortunately it was really true and there was no time to waste: Florence had to be brought to life again.
Help arrived immediately: the soldiers, volunteers and Florentines themselves immediately set to work to remove the mud, distribute rations and save the works of art; yes, all those monuments and works of art, including the paintings in the Uffizi Gallery and the manuscripts in the National Library.
The first answer to the appeal for help came from the young people, (foreigners and Italians), nowadays known as the Beat Generation, who, filled with a spirit of self-sacrifice, worked for long days and weeks in the mud, doing without any sort of modern comfort, to save all that had been lost.
Two of the pages of the diary of Fiammetta
Everyone was awake and hard at work all around me and I felt utterly useless, I wanted to go into the centre of town and help my brothers, both morally and spiritually, but I was unable to do anything, and I often cried on the quiet. A few days after the flood, when I was walking around Florence, I happened to go past the National Library and, hearing a noise, I looked in through one of the windows (to the basement) from whence it came, and saw lots of students and young people pulling books out of the mud. My heart so ached with longing that I wanted to shout "Wait for me! I'm coming to help too!". Instead I had to continue on my way, with my mother's arm around me, though perhaps she was the only person who understood how I felt.
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