After the Florence Flood: Saving Vasari's 'Last Supper'

Published on November 3, 2016 9:58 AM | Comments

Great article in the NY Times about restoring Vasari's Last Supper after the flood:

FLORENCE, ITALY -- In early morning light, the low buildings lining both sides of the Arno River here glow in their myriad shades of ochre, like the shallow river itself, which flows calmly through the city.

When I was here on Nov. 4, 1966, with my husband-to-be on our first trip to Europe together, it was quite a different sight. It had rained for days, and, totally saturated, the water table rose up; the river, coursing angrily with a release from an upriver dam, overflowed its retaining walls into the streets. Stranded in our hotel along the river, I looked down from a second-floor interior balcony and saw that the water had risen frighteningly to the ceiling of the lobby. I asked for two candles, two bottles of water and a couple of packets of breadsticks.

Would the foundation of the old building collapse? I took two flat wooden drawers from the armoire and placed them by the window in case we needed flotation devices. Then we took turns sleeping until dawn broke. Outside, large metal drums of heating oil, already topped off for winter, were swept into the Arno and banged all night against the bridges. Otherwise, all was ghostly quiet. By the next morning, the headline in La Notte described the scene: "Florence -- City of Ghosts."

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