Waters Rising: Letters from Florence

Published on November 2, 2016 11:07 AM | Comments

Here is a new, large format book about the flood:

In Waters Rising: Letters from Florence, renowned calligrapher Sheila Waters recounts the story of the role that her husband Peter Waters (1930–2003) played as the person in charge of organizing the monumental efforts to save severely damaged books in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (National Library, Florence) after the devastating flood in 1966 fifty years ago. To give the most complete picture of the events that occurred initially in the recovery mission, Sheila presents nearly 50 of Peter’s letters written between the end of November 1966 and April 1967, in which he describes day-to-day happenings, and her letters back, which kept him informed about things at home and boosted his confidence when problems seemed to be overwhelming.

In addition to these letters and Sheila’s narrative diary and timeline of events, Randy Silverman, Head of Preservation, University of Utah, has written a thought-provoking introduction that puts those conservation efforts into the context of today’s practices. Also, Valerii P. Leonov has written an appreciation of Peter’s assistance in the aftermath of a fire in 1988 that ravaged the Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The accompanying DVD features a digital remastering of Roger Hill’s film Restoration of Books, Florence, 1968. Waters Rising is dedicated to the people whose names appear herein and to those unnamed Mud Angels who salvaged the books that the flood waters left behind.

In 2016, conservators around the world will be focusing on those events that occurred 50 years ago because in many ways the work that Waters and his colleagues initiated then gave birth to modern book conservation.

Conservation Legacies of the Florence Flood of 1966

Published on February 10, 2010 11:37 AM | Comments

Seems like there is a new book out (November 2009) that we somehow missed - "Conservation Legacies of the Florence Flood of 1966"

Angels of mud

Published on November 3, 2008 10:19 PM | Comments

A new review out of Dark Water, in the Economist:

THERE are, writes Robert Clark, two concepts of the legendary city on the banks of the Arno in northern Italy. One, called Firenze, is populated by the proud, hard-working people who live there. The other, known to many as Florence, is home to the world’s greatest concentration of sublime works of art. Both are susceptible to terrible flooding—and November is the cruellest month. The river Arno’s first great flood happened on November 4th 1333; there were 3,000 deaths and the reason given was the sinfulness of man. On November 4th 1966 another great flood inundated the city; 33 people died and the blame fell principally on Enel, Italy’s largest power company.

More here.

Tomorrow is the 42nd anniversary of the flood. We have had some rain here in Florence recently (finally!) to remind us, but the event seems to passing this year without much fanfare. I am sure there will be some remembrances held in town - maybe at the Palazzo Vecchio, etc. I will try to find some local news as I can't scrape anything up on the web at the moment.

Interview with "Dark Water" author Robert Clark

Published on October 14, 2008 9:29 AM | Comments

Random House was kind enough to put us in touch with Robert Clark, author of the new book "Dark Water". He answered a few of our questions below by email:

Florence Flood: How long were you in Florence researching the book and how did the grant process come about?

Robert Clark: I was in Florence, living in the Piazza del Carmine for most of two years. As I said (in the book), I'd gotten the fellowship before I came, and the book came, sideways as it were, as a result.

Dark Water by Robert Clark

Published on September 26, 2008 6:26 PM | Comments

There is a new book to be released on October 7th about the 1966 flood of Florence and the aftermath of that fateful event. We were lucky enough to receive an advance copy and I am happy to say that if you are interested in the flood enough to have visited this website then you have to have a copy of this book: Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces.

It is remarkable in its detail and scholarship and brings the events and the people involved to life like nothing else I have read. We will posting a more in depth review soon, as well as an excerpt from the book, and even an interview with the author. For now, you can pre-order a copy from

The Great Flood of Florence, 1966

Published on September 12, 2007 11:58 AM | Comments

"The Great Flood of Florence" came out during the 40th anniversary last year and is now available for purchase from

The Sixteen Pleasures

Published on October 5, 2006 2:17 PM | Comments

The Sixteen Pleasures is a work of fiction but the young woman at the heart of the story is a "mud angel" and the book centers around her work of restoring books (along with a mystery and a love story) that were flood damaged. I know a couple of people who have read this book and say it is very good.

Again, this is a work of fiction, but many of the details of the flood and the restoration of books are historically accurate and give a sense of what it was like to be in Florence in 1966.


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