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Remembering the flood of Florence 50 Years Later



Remembering the flood of Florence 50 Years Later



Opening Remarks by

Armando Varricchio

Ambassador of Italy to the United States


Dario Nardella

Mayor of Florence, Italy


David Gariff

National Gallery of Art

Fifty years after the Flood of Florence, the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Institute of Culture of Washington, DC, together with the Italian Cultural Institute in New YorkNew York University, the National Gallery of Art, Friends of FlorenceRai Teche decided to remember the event, which saw thousands of people join forces in an attempt to save what they felt was a heritage which belonged not only to Italy, but to all humankind.

To open the exhibit Remembering the flood of Florence 50 years later, David Gariff, Senior Lecturer at the National Gallery of Art, will present his conference Flood of Florence after 50 years. A short video, courtesy of Radio Teche, will also be screened during the event. 

How can we explain to younger generations the dismay, the dramatic events of those days which forever changed the personal and generational lives of thousands of people? Images, more than words, can convey the powerful drama of the Flood. Hence the decision to show the only color photos that were taken at the time by an American photographer, filmmaker, and Professor at the University of California: Joe Blaustein.

Structural simplicity and flexibility distinguish this kind of document, which comes alive in photo shoots. At the center of it all is a "storyteller", an uncomplacent protagonist and witness who presents the story as emblematic although, at the same time, he is always willing to turn his gaze on the surrounding world. It is a "neo-realist” gaze: it is not a passive camouflage, but nor is it completely neutral. It is an inclusive, all-encompassing gaze that seeks to embrace the chosen place in its entirety, while implicitly telling a story to the world outside. The result is greatly emotional: we are at once inside the tragedy, but also aware that survival, self-preservation and protection of our daily and artistic heritage must come first.







EXHIBITION ON VIEW UNTIL NOVEMBER 14, 2016 (by appointment only):
(Monday to Friday 10am-12noon and 2pm-4pm)

HOW TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT: email reservations requests to with:

  1. Date & Time
  2. Complete name of each guest as it appears on photo ID

PLEASE NOTE: the date and time you request may not be available. You will receive a confirmation email.

Not open on weekends or holidays. 



Embassy of Italy
3000 Whitehaven St, NW
Washington, DC 20008


Armando Varricchio, Ambassador of Italy to the United States

Armando Varricchio became Ambassador of Italy to the United States on March 2, 2016. He previously served as diplomatic advisor and G7/G20 sherpa for the Italian prime minister (2013); deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012-13); ambassador to Serbia (2009-12); and minister plenipotentiary-deputy diplomatic advisor to the Italian president (2006-09). He also previously worked in Washington, D.C., at the Italian Embassy as first counselor and head of the Economic, Trade and Scientific Affairs Section (2002-06). Other posts include diplomatic advisor to the president of the European Commission and personal representative at the G7/G8 summits in Okinawa, Genoa and Kananaskis (1999-2002); chief of staff to the minister for European affairs (1998-99); and counselor at the Prime Minister’s Office and head of the Europe and Asia Desk (1996-98). Ambassador Varricchio, who joined the civil service in 1986, also served as first secretary at the Italian Mission to the European Commission (1992-96) and second secretary at the Italian Embassy in Hungary (1986-92).  Ambassador Varricchio holds a master’s degree (summa cum laude) in international relations from the University of Padua.

Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence, Italy 

Dario Nardella was born in Torre del Greco (Naples) on November 20th 1975. He graduated in Law with first class-honours at the University of Florence, where he got a Ph.D. in Public Law and construction and Environmental Law. He is also a graduate in violin from the “Conservatorium Cherubini” in Florence. Professor at the University of Florence where he teaches Cultural Heritage Law, he started his political career in 2004 when he was elected Councilman for the City of Florence in the Democratic Party. He served as legal advisor to the Minister of Institutional Reforms during Romano Prodi’s premiership (2006-2008). In 2008 he was selected by the U.S. State Department as young Italian politician to attend the International Visitor Leadership Program. In 2009 he was once again elected to the Florence City Council and appointed Vice Mayor in the City Government of former Mayor Mr. Matteo Renzi. In February 2013 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament and Member of the Commission for tourism, industry and trade. In February 2014, before leaving his office as Mayor to become Prime Minister, Mr. Renzi appointed Dario Nardella for the regency of the City until next elections. After winning primaries for the Democratic Party, in May 2014 Nardella has been elected Mayor of Florence with 59,16% of preferences at the first round of voting. In June 2014 Dario Nardella has been elected as ANCI (the national association of Italian Municipalities) coordinator for the metropolitan cities. 

David Gariff

David Gariff is a senior lecturer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and an adjunct professor of art history at The Catholic University of America. A specialist in modern and contemporary art and the art of the Italian Renaissance, he has taught art history at the University of Wisconsin, Cleveland State University, Trinity University, and the University of Maryland, College Park, where he received his Ph.D. He was a graduate fellow in Italy at the University of Florence and the University of Pisa, and a Fulbright and Kress Foundation fellow at the Institute for the History of Lombard Art in Milan. David has lectured and written widely on topics related to modern art, film, and the Italian Renaissance; his book The World'’s Most Influential Painters and the Artists They Inspired explores the theme of artistic influence and inspiration in Western painting.

Joe Blaustein

Born and raised in Manhattan. His father was from Ukraine, and his mother American.  When he was 18 he interrupted his studies and enlisted in the US Navy during of Second World War.

He returned to Los Angeles and after finishing his studies began working in advertising which gave him the opportunity to travel to Rome to have an Audience with the Pope. It was November 1966. He then went to visit Florence and stayed in a small hotel close to Ponte Vecchio.  Talk about being at the right place at the right time!

The rest is shown in this historical photographic essay that documents in depth the 1966 flood of the Arno.

Mr. Blaustein is also an accomplished artist, finding success with many solo art exhibits and is an Adjunct Professor at UCLA since 1956 still currently teaching, while dedicating some of his time to writing personal essays, painting and hosting private workshops. He retired from advertising in 1987.





Data: Da Mar 25 Ott 2016 a Lun 14 Nov 2016

Orario: Dalle 18:30 alle 20:30

Organizzato da : Embassy of Italy/Italian Cultural Institute

In collaborazione con : Italian Cultural Institute in New York, New York U

Ingresso : Libero


Embassy of Italy