“We were there to help,” writes Giuseppe. His surname is Alighieri, just like Dante. And as well as also being from Florence, he also shares a language with the great poet. “Noi ci s’era” (“We were there”), he writes. This expression, rather than “c’eravamo” is a typical Tuscan expression and in it there is a sense of rooted belonging, of a story that has now been taken into his being and his heart.
This linguistic declaration shows that he is recounting something that has been buried for a long time for some people. The flood of ’66 is now established as an integral part of everyone’s memories. Yet too often we have relied almost entirely on institutional commemorations, on the now popular symbol and stories and on the evocative images, which, despite how much time has passed, never cease to bring up new feelings. This is why, given the context, the simple “noi ci s’era” written by Giuseppe is more significant than any other narrative representation. It’s for this reason that we continue to receive comments, thoughts, memories and anecdotes that yesterday’s witnesses have decided to publish on the Facebook page “Toscana Firenze 2016”. We have already gathered some fragments of secondary details, concise memories of experiences which made the history even more real.
Among these many images, often featuring a rare intimacy, there are some which conjure up images of familiar scenes. After all, nothing that happened in the days of the flood – and the days just after – is a unique and private story.
- “I was 3 years old, I found myself on the roof of the house with my 5-year-old brother. My mother took us there through a small attic window to wait for help. Although I was young, I remember the cars floating upside down. Another memory was when we stayed in a hotel and a wealthy lady came to visit us. She looked at me and gave me a 10,000 lire note saying “split this in half with your brother”. I folded it and divided it, giving half to my brother. My mother turned green because I didn’t want to give her my part.” (Cinzia Bargiacchi)
- “For an hour we tried to empty the cellars, then they warned us that the Arno and the Era were full and there was a risk of them overflowing. Then we gave up.”
(Piera Degl’Innocenti Comucci)
- “How we slid in the mud! In the end, my mother didn’t send me to get any more water.”
- “I was very young at the time. I slept in the TV room, with the only telephone on my bedside table. It rang around four or five in the morning. They called my dad, a Valdarno (now Enel) employee, for an emergency. He left with his Lambretta and we didn’t know anything until the next day. There weren’t any cell phones nor live news. When he came back, luckily healthy but without the Lambretta (lost to the slime), we knew what had happened. I am not one of the “angels,” even though I tried to help. But some memories you carry inside you anyway.”
- “In Santa Croce, they were calling for help out the windows. We needed food, but more importantly we needed water. The first days were the worst because the water created whirlpools and ran over cars and everything else. We were helpless. After the first few days my brother William thought of his son’s sea boat. How many trips with the oars…”
- “My dad had a shop in Santa Croce, he was an engraver. It was a disaster. But with a lot of strength and a lot of love, we picked ourselves up from this tragedy.”
- “Dad, why did the cars in via Montebello change direction tonight? They’re facing the Cascine not piazza Ognissanti…”
(Susanna Garosi to her father)
edited by gianluca testa