It’s widely accepted that Italy is a fragile country and Tuscany is no exception. This is what the experts say, and it’s reiterated by scientists and researchers. But what would happen if there was a flood as drastic as the one in 1966 today?

“If we had to deal with a situation like the one 50 years ago, Florence would be submerged underwater” says the president of the Georgofili Academy, Giampiero Maracchi, whose memories of the flood are mostly “mud, mud everywhere”.

According to Bernardo Gozzini, sole director of the LaMMA Consortium, this happening “would have been expected,” at least by those who keep an eye on the weather forecast. The damage probably would have been just as inevitable. But the casualties? “Difficult to say, probably yes. Being aware of what could happen definitely reduces the risk”. You can’t just rely on official institutions or civil protection organisations for this though. “Citizens also have to find things out and protect themselves” added Gozzini. Both he and Maracchi attended an event dedicated to climate change and risk scenarios organised by the Georgofili Academy, LaMMA Consortium and CNR. An event organised (not coincidentally) in Florence and during which the book “Arno 1966. Fifty years of innovations in meteorology” was presented.

Why is it important to talk about climate change? Because the great flood was not an exception. These extreme cases are more and more common and every year the consequences are costing around 3 billion euros. January this year was the hottest since 1830 and mimosas are blooming out of their season. And then there are the recurring floods, followed by drought, soil depletion, loss of crops and upset ecosystems.

“Talking about the risks? It’s important, essential even” affirms Gozzini.

“It’s not an easy topic. And nor is it trivial. It is just as important that civil protection agencies communicate as it is that information is given to citizens”. Self-defence? This is what it means in Gozzini’s eyes: “It’s necessary to give people detailed and accurate information, but we have to work harder in terms of education”.

gianluca testa


Cover photo: Joe Blaustein