Gli Angeli del Fango

November 4, 2008 / Events
November 4th, 1966 will never be forgotten by residents of Florence or art lovers around the world. The great river of Florence, the Arno, rose to deadly heights after the nearby dams were compromised by severe rainstorms in the days leading up to November 4. Residents of Florence, and the world, watched helplessly as roughly 30 people died, thousands were made homeless, and countless (and priceless) art treasures and literature were lost to the churning, engulfing flood waters. All in the blink of an eye…

Among the many relief efforts which rushed to aid Florence, it is inspiring to learn of gli angeli del fango, or the Mud Angels. They were volunteers from all over the world who dropped everything to turn up in Florence’s time of great need. Some of them were experts in the field of art restoration, others were simply young students. They tirelessly set about the task of literally digging out the city and attempting to save the artwork that they could. Two notable examples of art that were eventually recovered (though unclear if it was the work of the Angels) were The Doors of Paradise by Ghiberti, and, the Crucifix by Cimabue, which sustained massive damage.

The next time you visit Florence, seek out the wall plaques which show the heights the flood waters reached (15 feet in some neighborhoods) and say a thank you to Gli Angeli del Fango for their gift of love and hope to the world.

These historical images are public domain.

Elizabeth Anderson

by Elizabeth Anderson

You can see some of her great photos at

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