Little Bits of History

Rising Waters

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 4, 2015
Arno River through Florence, Italy

Arno River through Florence, Italy *

November 4, 1966: The Arno River overflows. It is one of Italy’s major rivers, second in importance only to the Tiber. It begins at Mount Falterona in the Apennines and runs 150 miles through Tuscany. It initially heads south and then westward. It passes Arezzo, Florence, Empoli, and Pisa before flowing into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Arno is famous for frequently overflowing and so dams have been built.  On November 3, after a long steady rain, the Levane and La Penna dams in Valdarno began to discharge more than 71,000 cubic feet of water with it heading toward Florence. By 2.30 PM, the Civil Engineering Department reported an “exceptional quantity of water” had been discharged and areas north of Florence began to see flooding.

At 4 AM on this day, as engineers feared the bursting of the Valdarno damn, they began to discharge a mass of water which began speeding toward Florence at 37 mph. At 7.26 AM, in preparation for the water’s movement, gas, electricity, and water was cut off and by 8 AM, the army barracks were flooded. At 9 AM, the hospital’s generators (the only source of power in the region) also cut out. Landslides blocked roads in Florence and the narrow streets acted as funnels which increased in height and velocity. By 9.45 AM the Piazza del Duomo was flooded. The swirling, rushing waters breached the central heating oil tanks and oil was mixed in with the floodwaters which caused even greater damage.

Geographically, Florence is divided in two and the people past the Piazza Michelangelo were stranded. Santa Croce saw the highest water at 22 feet. The waters began to recede around 8 PM after killing 101 people. This was the worst flood in Florence since 1557. The flood had both an economic and a cultural impact on the city that remains to this day. Most of the people living in Florence were totally unaware of the impending disaster as they slept peacefully and there were no emergency measures in place since it was assumed the dams were protection enough.

There were 5,000 families left homeless and 6,000 stores were forced out of business due to storm damage. About 600,000 tons of mud, rubble, and sewage damaged much of the city. Florence was known for its artistic history and was a repository for many antique artifacts. Between 3 and 4 million books/manuscripts were damaged as well as 14,000 moveable works of art. The Italian citizens as well as foreign donors and groups came together as the “Mud Angels” and many of the damaged works have been restored. There are also newly established methods of conservation for the precious works and yet restoration laboratories still have much work to do. Not just the art/history/culture need to be protected and a massive project throughout Tuscany has been ongoing to prevent any future flooding disasters.

I have long been active in and supportive of conservation and historical preservation causes. – Jack L. Chalker

We were totally unprepared for such a large quantity of visitors, and in view of the preservation of the antiquities they being very crowded and in poor preservation, we were obliged to refuse admission until some preparation was made to safeguard the objects. – Howard Carter, who discovered King Tut’s tomb on this day

All that mankind has done, thought or been: it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books. – Thomas Carlyle

Individually, museums are fine institutions, dedicated to the high values of preservation, education and truth; collectively, their growth in numbers points to the imaginative death of this country. – Robert Hewison

Also on this day: Symbolism – In 1899, Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams in Germany.
Chartists – In 1839, the Newport Uprising ended in bloodshed.
Erie Canal – In 1825, the “Wedding of the Waters” took place.
Nighty Night – In 1847, chloroform’s anesthetic properties were discovered.
Pharaoh Tutankhamen – In 1922, King Tut’s tomb was found.

* “Firenze.Arno” by No machine readable author provided. JoJan assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims).. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –

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Battle of Molinella

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 25, 2015
Battle of Molinella*

Battle of Molinella*

July 25, 1467: The Battle of Molinella takes place. It was one of the most important battles in present day Italy from the 15th century. The Republic of Venice, led by Bartolomeo Colleoni, met the Republic of Florence, led by Frederico da Montefeltro for Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici. Although Colleoni was fighting for Venice, his own agenda was the capture of Milan. He was allied with Borso d’Este, the Marquis of Ferrara and the Lords of Pesaro, Forli as well as other renegade families from Florence. The Medici family was allied with Galeazzo Maria Sforza who ruled the Duchy of Milan, King Ferdinand II of Aragon, and the ruler of Bologna, Giovanni II Bentivoglio. The Venetians brought about 14,000 troops to the battle while the Florentines had about 13,000.

The battle was fought on the banks of the Idice River near Molinella. It is also sometimes called the Battle of Riccardina. Historians cannot agree on a winner for the day’s carnage but they know that there were between 600 and 700 casualties as well as a large number of horses slaughtered during the day’s event. Nearly 1,000 horses were lost as the cavalries met. The sure result was that Colleoni abandoned his plans to conquer Milan. The battle is noteworthy because it was the first time (in Italy) that artillery and firearms were extensively used. A large fresco in the Castle of Malpaga depicts the battle. It is thought to have been created by Girolamo Romani. In 1468, Pope Paul II brokered a peace between the two belligerents.

The Most Serene Republic of Venice originated in 697 and began in Venice. As the locals banded together to defend themselves against invasions from the Lombards, Huns, and others, they grew into their own kingdom. They eventually were able to expand and take on lands on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. They were a wealthy state due to their control of trade routes between Europe and the Levant. Their navies were impressive with hundreds of ships. As the Crusades brought people through the region, they were able to capitalize on the movements of troops and their return with booty. By the early 15th century, rather than expansion solely into the Byzantine Empire, Venice also began expanding inward towards Italy proper. The republic lasted for over a millennium and finally came to an end in 1797 when Napoleon conquered the land.

The Republic of Florence, centered on the city of Florence and located in what is today Tuscany, Italy began in 1115. Florence was established in 59 BC by Julius Caesar. The city’s struggle with power and rule had been chaotic and long-lasting. In the late 1000s, several aristocratic families moved into the region and the republic was built. The city became a banking center about the time the Black Death came to Europe. The florin, the first gold coin in Europe, came from the banks of Florence and since they were international, it became the standard. With money comes power. The Medici family’s rise to power followed. The family was able to rule until 1533 when the infuriated population rebelled and brought an end to the republic.

War is not only a matter of equipment, artillery, group troops or air force; it is largely a matter of spirit, or morale. – Chiang Kai-shek

A battery of field artillery is worth a thousand muskets. – William Tecumseh Sherman

Artillerymen believe the world consist of two types of people; other Artillerymen and targets. – saying

Artillery adds dignity, to what would otherwise be an ugly brawl. –  Frederick the Great

Also on this day: Oh Joy! Louise – In 1978, Louise Joy Brown was born.
TP – in 1871, a patent was granted for perforated toilet paper.
Free Press – In 1925, TASS was established.
SS Andrea Doria – In 1956, the ship was struck out at sea.
“Temporary” Tax – In 1917, Canada got a new income tax.

* “Malpaga1” by Giorces – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 it via Wikimedia Commons –