Florence Flood

I can remember sitting in my friend's home in Italy. It was the middle of the summer, and I was sifting a fragment through my hands. I thought it was so unusual that this particular lot of fragments were covered in dirt and silt. Mentioning this, my friend smiled, leaned back, and began to tell me the story of the Florence flood, and how a man and his servants salvaged the very fragment I had in my hands.

Fifty years prior, the farmers from northern Florence were afraid that the unusual amount of rain that had fallen would cause the Arno river to overflow and damage their crops. Totally unaware of the damage this would cause on the city of Florence, they opened the dams. And on the night of November 3rd, 1966, the Arno River flooded. When people began to wake up on the 4th, the city was inundated with dirty water full of car oil and gasoline. No one would have ever guessed that the Arno could be so vicious. 

5,000 families were left homeless by the storm, 6,000 stores were forced out of business, and over 100 lives were lost. Along with the millions of masterpieces of art and rare books, 600,000 tons of mud, rubble and sewage severely damaged or destroyed the artifacts in the very churches they adorned.

When all of these church artifacts were floating through the streets, a particularly wealthy man and his servants began to gather and buy up as many guilded antiques with culture they could. They had a monastery up the hill about four stories high that they filled with all of the fragments. The rooms were filled with 16th century sculptures and rooms filled with candlesticks piled like firewood, rooms with only sunrays, and others with old trunks and 16th century chests, all needing restoration. This monastery remained completely closed for about thirty years.

About ten years ago, they allowed only a few select dealers in, and within a matter of 5 or 6 years, this man's stock has been entirely depleted, and no one was able to buy any more. Years ago I began to take interest and buy these fragments out of my own fascination, now having these treasures but unable to purchase or find any more.

These very fragments have been used for decorators and designers alike to copy for distressed accessories, but here we have them, the originals. While many of our fragment artifacts are distressed due to age, these Florence fragments in particular stand apart. They symbolize a history that has been carried them through the streets of Italy, to the monastery, to the modern home.

To view the Florence Fragments collection now, visit www.interistore.com.